City of Seattle - City Light Department (Seattle City Light) keeps guitars humming and coffee grinders running in the Seattle metropolitan area. The US's 10th largest municipally owned power company, Seattle City Light transmits and distributes electricity to almost 1 million residential, commercial, industrial, and government customers and owns hydroelectric power plants with more than 1,800 MW of generation capacity. The utility also purchases power from the Bonneville Power Administration and other generators, and it sells power to wholesale customers.
The Seattle City Light service area includes all of the City of Seattle, portions of the cities of Burien, Tukwila, SeaTac, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park and Renton, as well as parts of unincorporated King County.
The company owns and operates generating, transmission, and distribution facilities and supplies electricity to 408,000 customer meters in Seattle and certain surrounding communities. It also supplies electrical energy to other City agencies at rates prescribed by City ordinances.
Seattle City Light reported a revenue increase of 5% (to $842.2) in 2013 primarily due to increased retail power revenues stemming from a 4% rate increase and a 1.2% Bonneville Power Administration pass-through rate adjustment.
It net income increased that year due to higher retail power sales, rate stabilization account unearned revenue transferred-in, power related revenues, and capital contributions. These were partially offset by higher expenses for generation, customer service, administrative and general, taxes, depreciation, interest, and lower investment earnings.
In 2013, Seattle City Light’s operating cash inflow decreased to $229.7 (from $243.5 million in 2012) was due to higher tax paid and increased cash paid to a supplier.
The company's long term objective is to continue to secure reliable, low-cost, and environmentally-sensitive power for its customers. To lower costs the utility is pushing its customers to conserve by taking green energy options such as installing more energy-efficient appliances and by buying renewable energy credits (allowing customers to pay for slightly higher costs of integrating renewable energy into the region's power grid).
Seattle City Light's six-year strategic plan, adopted in 2012, calls for an annual rate increase of 4.7% to pay for expanding Seattle City Light's infrastructure and services, including building its first electric substation for 30 years.
In 2013 the company added two new service request types to the “Find It, Fix It” smartphone app, enabling Smartphone to report illegal dumping and streetlight outages, in addition to its existing features for reporting abandoned vehicles, graffiti, potholes and parking enforcement issues.
That year Seattle City Light and the Seattle Aquarium announced the start of construction for the largest solar array at any aquarium on the West Coast as part of the utility's Community Solar and Green Up programs. The $330,000 system will cover a large portion of the south side of the Seattle Aquarium's roof. Most of its 247 solar panels will produce electricity on behalf of City Light customers who want to buy solar power through the utility's Community Solar program. The rest of the panels are being installed as a demonstration project through the utility's voluntary Green Up renewable energy program with the electricity produced helping to power the Aquarium's operations.
Evolving from several neighborhood electric companies that began serving Seattle in 1886, Seattle City Light was created in 1910 to power the city's streetlights. In 2005 the electric utility became the first in the US to become greenhouse gas neutral in its power generation.