Seattle City (spot)Light: Eliza Ives, Renewable Energy Program Manager

From Boston to Seattle, Eliza Ives shares her passion for the outdoors and upcoming advancements in renewable energy.

Renewable Energy Program Manager Eliza Ives has been with City Light for three and a half years. “I started as a graduate intern and decided to stick around!” she exclaimed.

“I am originally from just outside of Boston and studied evolutionary biology at Harvard, which got me into the marine biology world. After five years, I returned to school to get my master’s in public administration from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy,” Eliza shared. “My spouse’s job brought us to Seattle nine years ago. I was happy not to be in a landlocked area, as were my marine biology interests (in a former life, I worked for NOAA doing large marine mammal passive acoustics research).”

In this week’s (spot)Light, Eliza talks favorite winter weather activities and her work at City Light.

“In the theme of the winter season, my absolute favorite activity is skiing! We’re Crystal Mountain die-hards and try to get out there as much as possible during the season. I grew up chattering down the icy hills of Vermont, so PNW skiing was a huge adjustment at first, but the new terrain (and the cascade concrete) has made me a much better skier over the years,” Eliza said. “In terms of hobbies, I really enjoy bird watching. You can do it anywhere (even in a parking lot!) and, for me, it’s one of the few activities that slows me down and keeps me grounded in the present moment – it’s almost a meditative experience.

“It was the former Customer Energy Solutions division that sparked my excitement about City Light. I had no idea the utility was doing so much work in energy efficiency or renewable energy programs, and I found it appealing that close to 90% of our energy is hydro and carbon neutral. It also felt great being part of a municipal department. I really liked that I would be working to better my community and that the utility answers directly to our customers.

“As one of two renewable energy program managers, I manage some of our renewables programs, including the state solar incentive, community solar, and net metering. This year I joined a new team tasked with developing a race and social justice strategy for the Customer Care and Energy Solutions division,” Eliza explained. “Generally, my job entails ensuring our customer-generators understand the utility benefits of installing solar as well as their eligibility for utility rates like net metering, net metering aggregation, and large solar and/or state incentives.

“Looking forward, I am particularly excited about community solar. We’re working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to research feasible program designs for the next generation of community solar, including a carve-out for our customers surviving on low-to-moderate incomes. I think there is so much opportunity for the utility to expand access to the benefits of renewable energy, and this is one way we might do it.”