Looking back at 2021

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed! From extreme weather to new and exciting projects that will change the way we power our region, our employees went above and beyond to deliver affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy services. To summarize 2021, it was a year of action.  

With the last year fading out of the rearview mirror, we want to look back to reflect on 2021 as we look ahead to 2022.   
 

Giving back to our community 

The toys donated to Toys for Tots by employees at City Light’s South Service Center 
The toys donated to Toys for Tots by employees at City Light’s South Service Center 

At the end of the year, City Light raised more than $50,000 to help those in need in the communities where we work across Washington state. 

  • Through City Light’s Project Share campaign, 480 customers and employees donated more than $40,000 and counting! These funds assist customers who are facing financial challenges and have past due electricity bills with emergency assistance. 
  • City Light employees at the North and South Service Centers were hard at work in December to bring smiles (and toys!) to children across King County. The Field Operations team organized a Toys for Tots drive, filling collection bins with holiday gifts and raising more than $7,500 in cash donations.  
  • Last month, our Boundary Hydroelectric Project employees in eastern Washington raised $4,500 at their yearly luncheon auction. The proceeds went to Emergency Food Bank of Ione and The Tree of Sharing in Spokane to support those in need in their community. 

Restoring power in extreme weather  

From wind and snow in the winter and fall to record-breaking triple-digit temperatures in the summer, City Light took on a multitude of large-scale outages along with high peak energy usage days this year. Through it all, the utility responded to outages quickly and safely and managed our power loads to ensure that we could handle an increase in usage. A special thanks to our teams for weathering a year of storms! 


Installing new electric vehicle fast chargers in our franchise cities  

Burien City Councilmember Kevin Schilling and City Light Energy Innovation Resources Officer Emeka Anywanu 
Burien City Councilmember Kevin Schilling and City Light Energy Innovation Resources Officer Emeka Anywanu 

City Light continued our efforts to install and operate publicly-accessible EV fast chargers throughout our service area. This year, City Light installed six new fast chargers in our franchise cities including five in Tukwila in February and one outside of the City Hall/Library in the heart of downtown Burien. Be sure to stop by for a charge!  


Exploring renewable hydrogen fuel at the Port of Seattle with Department of Energy awards  

An example of how a renewable hydrogen infrastructure would operate at the Port of Seattle  
(Credit: Sara Levine | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) 
An example of how a renewable hydrogen infrastructure would operate at the Port of Seattle  
(Credit: Sara Levine | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) 

Last year, a team from City Light, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories began to explore the potential of shifting from fossil fuel to clean hydrogen as fuel to power medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. This work is supported by two awards from the U.S. Department of Energy totaling $2.12 million to help meet emission reduction goals set by Seattle City Light and the Port of Seattle. The study team also includes partners at The Northwest Seaport Alliance and PACCAR/Kenworth.    

Clean hydrogen fuel is expected to play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in some of the more hard-to-decarbonize maritime and trucking industries. Hydrogen production and hydrogen-fueled medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are a possible solution for shifting some of these uses off fossil fuels, with potential benefits that will continue to grow with the project itself. Learn more about this incredible project here


Leading the industry toward a clean energy future 

Last April, the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), a nonprofit organization that envisions a carbon-free energy system, announced that City Light earned a spot in SEPA’s 2021 Utility Transformation Leaderboard. The recognition results from City Light’s participation in SEPA’s Utility Transformation Challenge—a comprehensive, honest assessment of U.S. electric utilities’ efforts to embrace the transition to a clean and modern energy future.  

The evaluation framework analyzed six individual surveys designed to capture meaningful utility progress across key areas covering transformation in infrastructure, programs, strategy and operations. SEPA received survey responses from 135 individual utilities, representing more than 83 million customer accounts, or approximately 63% of all U.S. electric customer accounts.   


Hiring an artist-in-residence 

City Light’s 2021-2022 Artist-in-Residence, Kate Clark (photo by Katie Benz) 
City Light’s 2021-2022 Artist-in-Residence, Kate Clark (photo by Katie Benz) 

Last fall, City Light, in partnership with the Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), commissioned Kate Clark to be the utility’s Artist-in-Residence for one year, starting in September 2021. Clark will work closely with City Light staff to learn about the utility’s operations and facilities, enabling her to create an art master plan that will guide and inform City Light’s future public art programming. This plan will be a robust, cohesive long-range vision for how City Light can leverage our 1% for Art Fund resources to connect with community members, provide support to the arts community, and reflect the mission, vision, values and race and social justice goals of City Light and the City of Seattle.  
 
The City of Seattle has one of the oldest percent-for-art programs in the country, established in 1973. City Light’s 1% for Art Fund allocates up to 1% of eligible capital construction funds for the inclusion of art. Over the years, City Light has built a robust collection of over 400 permanently sited artworks and over 3,000 portable artworks. To learn more about City Light’s 1% for Art program, visit our website


Launching the Green Up Community Program 

 Green Up is a voluntary renewable energy program that allows City Light customers to support Pacific Northwest wind, solar and other renewable energy projects generating carbon-free energy. Green Up Community is making a difference with customers’ Green Up contributions by bringing solar projects to your community. When customers participate in Green Up, City Light purchases regional renewable energy credits (RECs) on their behalf and funds local rooftop solar projects hosted by not-for-profits and public organizations like affordable housing, schools, and parks.     
 
Last year, City Light and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s (WSHFC) Sustainable Energy Trust were selected as 2021 Green Power Leadership Award winners by the Center for Resource Solutions. The award recognized the two agencies for removing barriers for low- and moderate-income communities to install solar with affordable financing through WSHFC’s Sustainable Energy Trust combined with incentives from the Green Up Community Program. Read more on our blog


Overhauling a massive rotor at Boundary  

The new rotor inside the machine hall at the Boundary Hydroelectric Project. 
The new rotor inside the machine hall at the Boundary Hydroelectric Project. 

Last May, the team at Boundary Hydroelectric Project achieved a significant milestone in their overhaul of Unit 51 with a brand new 772,000-pound rotor, enabling the generator to operate at its optimum, increasing its output from 158 megawatts to 180. In total, about 22 people were involved in the installation – machinists, electrical constructors, operators, hydro maintenance workers, painters, and warehousers. You can read about this herculean, all-hands-on-deck project on our blog.   


Breathing new life into a Seattle monument 

Interior view looking southeast, turbine #2. Georgetown Steam Plant, Seattle, Washington. 
Interior view looking southeast, turbine #2. Georgetown Steam Plant, Seattle, Washington. 

In August, City Light signed a long-term lease and operating agreement with the newly formed Georgetown Steam Plant Community Development Authority (GTSPCDA), a non-profit organization dedicated to continued public use and restoration of the building. The agreement allows the GTSPCDA to assume programming and operations of the Georgetown Steam Plant, a nationally recognized and historically significant landmark in Seattle’s historic Georgetown neighborhood in the heart of the Duwamish Valley. 

These are just a handful of stories and accomplishments from City Light’s past year. We want to thank our incredible employees and our customers for their support throughout the year. 

Here’s to a brighter 2022!