The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a 2015-2020 Strategic Plan for Seattle City Light today.
The new plan is an update of the utility’s 2013-2018 Strategic Plan. It will help City Light deliver what customers want most: reliable energy at an affordable cost. Customers have asked City Light to offer tools such as instant access to energy usage data; ways to save money and lower energy use; reduced outages; and better customer service. The plan addresses all of these, and more.
The updated plan will keep City Light rates at some of the lowest levels in the country. New technology will help monitor and manage the power lines in real time to reduce outage frequency and duration. Master planning for improvements at the utility’s aging service centers also will take place to improve efficiencies and reduce risks. The plan also lays out a path to lessen the likelihood of rate surcharges during poor water years and increases operational efficiencies that will save the utility at least $18 million per year by 2015.
The plan furthers City Light’s rich tradition of environmental leadership with renewed investment in energy efficiency incentives, renewable energy, climate change adaptation research, and customer outreach. City Light is the nation’s first carbon-neutral utility and is a leader in discovering new and innovative conservation strategies and fish-friendly operation of our hydroelectric projects.
“In the first two years of our Strategic Plan, we have made significant progress in reducing costs and investing in aging infrastructure while providing our customers with low, predictable rates,” General Manager Jorge Carrasco said. “More remains to be done, particularly as we find new ways to promote energy-efficiency in the face of flat load growth, and I thank Mayor Murray, the Council and the Review Panel for encouraging us to look for innovative solutions.”
Eleven years ago, City Light went through some of the toughest times in its 100 year history. The West Coast energy crisis hit and the utility had no financial reserves. Its bond rating was downgraded, an aging infrastructure had been neglected, and customer satisfaction was low. Today, the utility’s finances are strong, its bond rating is the highest of any Pacific Northwest public utility and customer satisfaction is at an all-time high.
“This strategic plan builds on our past successes and drives us towards our vision of providing the best customer experience of any utility in the country,” Carrasco said.
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.