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Seattle City (spot)Light: Thor Peterson

“Relative newbie” Thor Peterson started working with City Light in October 2019 in a 11-month TES contract. Before coming to City Light, Thor worked for Seattle Public Utilities and the former Department of Planning Development in conservation and green building roles from 1998-2007, “I’ve got a bit of history with municipal utilities despite my newness in my current role.”

Thor is a native Washingtonian, “in fact both of my parents and one grandparent were also born in Seattle” he shared. “I’m one of those apples that didn’t fall far from the tree! I received my bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Washington, and then went back to the UW campus a few years later to receive my Master of Public Administration from the Evans School where I focused on environmental policy and public participation in environmental decision-making.”

In this week’s (spot)Light, Thor talks more about his work at City Light, his connection to the environment, and what brought him to the utility.

“I currently live in the Ravenna-Bryant neighborhood. The overall sense of place I have here is probably my favorite thing about it; My dad has memories of salmon running in Ravenna creek when he was a kid and I like the feeling of rootedness that my family has instilled in the same place. Needless to say, I love the outdoors- especially plants and the ecosystems they underpin. I love the design challenge of working with nature and unlocking the potential of the natural world on a small scale in my little plot of soil at our house.”

“I am the residential energy efficiency rebates program manager in the Customer Care and Energy Solutions division. Our rebates are meant to change consumer behavior toward selecting more energy-efficient alternatives which help to propel market transformation toward resource efficiency. I was brought on specifically to help sunset some of our long-standing rebate programs and help stand up some innovative replacements. While there’s still a ton of energy conservation opportunity out there, a good amount of the low-hanging fruit has been plucked. Technological change means some new fruits are emerging that we should be focusing on. Some of our programs had also run on autopilot for a while and it was time to rethink our approach to ensure that we not only meet our market transformation and conservation goals, but that we equitably serve our customer base as we work to become the utility of the future.”

“Truly, I like a lot of things about the utility! If I have to pick one, it would have to be the people- I really respect and admire my coworkers. They care deeply about the community we serve, and are just so smart, dedicated and creative. It makes it easy to remain inspired and hopeful, even in the face of daunting challenges they help me feel that we really are up for the task.”

“Working for SPU really ignited my love for publicly-owned utilities. I had the pleasure of collaborating with City Light back in my SPU days, since the green building program I helped administer there had a natural alignment with City Light’s conservation goals. When my current position came up, I jumped at it because it was a unique chance to revisit familiar territory from a new angle and with fresh inspiration. Also, the energy industry is going through massive changes these days and is an essential player in creating our sustainable relationship with our planet- to assist, even in small ways, with the sort of transformation we’ll need to effect as a utility… that’s fun and exciting stuff!”