Unexpected Mountain Snows Are Great News for City Light Customers

Seattle City Light customers can expect to keep more green in their pockets thanks to February’s record-setting snowfall in the mountains and this month’s additional storms.  The increased snowfall means a greater snowpack for use in generating electricity at our hydroelectric dams.

skagit Valley snow

According to the most recent financial forecast, the improved snowpack will allow City Light to make and sell more electricity to other utilities once the snow melts, increasing City Light’s revenues by a projected $19 million – and avoiding any customer surcharges for the duration of 2014.  You can track City Light’s snowpack and water conditions here.

“This is great news for residents and businesses.  We are fortunate in Seattle to have a well-run, publicly-owned electric utility where improvements in the bottom line are shared directly with all of its customer-owners,” Mayor Ed Murray said.

Dry weather conditions throughout December and January caused concern that Seattle City Light might not be able to generate enough electricity at its hydroelectric dams for surplus electric sales.  A reduction in surplus sales of electricity to other utilities could cause City Light to miss its revenue projections.  Automatic rate surcharges are triggered when revenues fall short in order to maintain adequate levels of service for customers.

City Light transferred $21 million in savings left over from its 2013 operating budget into the Rate Stabilization Account in February in hopes of offsetting the lost revenues from surplus energy sales.  The Rate Stabilization Account was created in 2011 to protect customers and the utility from volatile price swings associated with hydroelectric power generation and changing revenues from wholesale energy sales.

That transfer and the unanticipated record-setting snows have led to a much brighter outlook this year for City Light and its customers.

“While any forecast can and will change based on how much electricity we can produce and the price we can get for that power, we are in a much better position today than we were earlier this year,” General Manager and CEO Jorge Carrasco said.  “We are always working to keep costs low for our customers and we will stay committed to that task.”

The Rate Stabilization Account is drawn on when revenues do not meet expectations, in order to prevent damaging cuts to maintenance, tree-trimming and other work that allows for reliable service for customers.  When the account runs low it triggers automatic surcharges on all customers’ bills until the fund is replenished.

Seattle City Light is dedicated to finding ways to improve customer service and reliability while keeping rates low and predictable for customers.  For more information on our conservation efforts and how the utility works to save customers’ money, visit our website.