Effective Nov. 1, 2019, Seattle City Light customers will see a rate decrease of approximately 0.5% on average. This change is the cumulative effect of an average 1.9% passthrough credit and a 1.5% increase to the Rate Stabilization Account (RSA) surcharge.
The credit is a Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) passthrough of 0.19 cents per kWh, which is approximately a 1.9% reduction for City Light customers on average. BPA announced its new rates and associated customer bills effective Oct. 1, 2019.
City Light’s specific changes were:
- No change to its power rates.
- A 3.18% increase to transmission rates.
- Approximately 3% reduction in purchase volume.
This resulted in roughly $15 million lower BPA costs compared to what was used when setting 2020 retail rates. This triggers a BPA passthrough; when final BPA rates/costs are adopted, any differences in costs from planning levels will be passed through to City Light’s customers via a per kWh credit or charge. The BPA passthrough is permanent until City Light adopts new retail rates, which is scheduled for Jan. 1, 2021.
The Rate Stabilization Account is a cash reserve of approximately $100 million that City Light can dip into when wholesale market prices or hydroelectric production changes cause an unexpected drop in revenue. Any differences in actual net wholesale revenues compared to planning levels will be transferred to/from the RSA. An RSA surcharge is automatically triggered when the RSA becomes depleted.
Net wholesale revenues are extremely low this year due to low water conditions at City Light’s hydro generating facilities. This has caused approximately $30 million of withdrawals from the RSA through the first three quarters of the year. A 1.5% surcharge had been in place since August 2016. The surcharge amount will increase to 3% on Nov. 1, 2019 since the RSA balance has dropped below $80 million at the end of September. When the quarterly RSA balance exceeds $90 million the 3% surcharge will be reduced to 1.5% and when it exceeds $100 million all surcharges will be removed.
2020 Annual Rate Changes
Effective Jan. 1, 2020, customers will see a rate increase of approximately 5.4% on average. This rate change was adopted by Seattle City Council in November 2018 and endorsed by the Seattle City Light’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan. The approved rates will be adjusted by the BPA passthrough and RSA surcharge.
Customer Rate Impacts
Customers will have different rate impacts based on their specific electricity use. The tables below show average impacts for each customer class for the Nov. 1, 2019 and Jan. 1, 2020 rate changes. Customers can view the new rates on City Light’s rates webpage.
Nov. 1, 2019 (relative to rates in effect January-October 2019)
Jan. 1, 2020 (relative to rates in effect November-December 2019)
 Customers participating in the Utility Discount Program (UDP) will see a rate decrease of 0.08 cents per kWh