This week, Oct. 5-11, local citizens, communities and government officials are taking part in celebrating the the 28th annual Public Power Week, a nationwide program that celebrates the importance of public power.
Seattle City Light, the 10th largest public utility in the United States, was the first municipally owned electric utility in the nation. City Light continues to be publicly owned and has served its Seattle customers now for more than 105 years.
City Light got its start in 1902 when Seattle voters approved a bond measure to develop a hydroelectric facility on the Cedar River, the nation’s first municipally-owned hydro project. Today, the utility has grown to more than 1,800 employees, seven hydroelectric plants and 14 major substations. It serves more than 408,000 customers in the city of Seattle and eight adjacent communities.
Programs at City Light deliberately avoid the release of more than 663,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of taking 146,000 cars off the road each year! This focus on the environment inspires our identity as The Nation’s Greenest Utility. More than 90 percent of City Light’s electricity is generated by hydroelectric facilities and 94.2 percent of City Light’s electricity, in total, comes from clean energy sources.
City Light recognizes its impact on natural resources that are vital to the life of the Pacific Northwest, so the utility also acquires property to preserve wildlife and fish habitats, protecting a total of 13,075 acres of land. The Skagit River Hydroelectric Project Wildlife Mitigation Program alone has grown to total 10,300 acres, providing critical habitat for a wide range of animals and including high quality, old-growth conifer forest.
The utility’s conservation program just surpassed its 37 year, the longest in the nation. In 2011, City Light conservation programs helped customers reduce their energy consumption by 1.1 million megawatt-hours. That’s enough electricity to power 124,000 Seattle homes – nearly one third of the utility’s residential service. Customers who participated in conservation programs reduced their City Light bills by a combined $797 million, half of those savings went to residential customers.
When it comes to giving back to the public and community, City Light partakes in numerous efforts. Whether it is assisting low-income homeowners improve their residence through green-minded renovations, engaging with students to help educate them on energy conservation or even supporting income qualified customers with their electric bills – Seattle City Light actively works to be a public steward for its customers.
Celebrate Public Power Week and let Seattle City Light know what public power means to you!