What a Possible Surcharge Could Mean to You

Low prices on the electricity Seattle City Light sells to other utilities and uncertainty about how much snow might fall in the mountains to feed the utility's hydroelectric dams could trigger an automatic surcharge on customers' bills later this year. Here's what that could mean for you.

You might have seen some of the media coverage from Wednesday’s meeting of the Seattle City Council’s Energy Committee where Seattle City Light General Manager and CEO Jorge Carrasco discussed the possibility of a surcharge on electricity bills later this year.

The reasons for this risk are low prices on the energy City Light sells to other utilities and uncertainty about how much snow might fall in the mountains to feed the utility’s hydroelectric dams, which generate that electricity.

If those conditions persist, and City Light’s reserve funds continue to drop, a temporary 1.5 percent surcharge would automatically be enacted until conditions improve. Here’s what it could mean for you.

Seattle City Light’s average residential customer pays about $60 a month on electricity. A surcharge would add about 90 cents to each month’s cost.

For customers who participate in the Utility Discount Program, the average monthly cost is $23. A surcharge would add about 40 cents a month.

Business customers account for about two-thirds of the energy delivered by City Light. They would receive the same 1.5 percent surcharge. The financial impact would vary greatly among businesses depending on their energy consumption. For a small business, the surcharge could mean as little as $1.13 a month. For a large business with intensive energy use, the surcharge could add several thousand dollars to each month’s electricity costs.

More information about the rate stabilization account City Light has used since 2011 to limit the utility’s financial risk from fluctuations in energy markets and snowpack can be found here.