Seattle City Light (SCL) is following a different approach from other U.S. utility companies, turning towards energy efficiency apart from simply incrasing power generation to meet load. Seattle City Light holds the record for the longest continually operated energy conservation program in the country, which has been running since 1977. Since that time, it has delivered 1.5 billion kWh total savings, and more than $500 million in unreimbursed ratepayer total investment.
Seattle City Light serves the city of Seattle and seven suburban cities in the state of Washington. It is the 10th largest public electric utility in the U.S., and delivers power to nearly one million Seattle-area residents and businesses. It holds the distinction of being greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the country to achieve it.
Energy efficiency and least environmental impact are the main goals of the company, and it has done important work in achieving them to the benefit of itself and its consumers. Glenn Atwood, Seattle City Light’s conservation director, has stressed that energy efficiency is least cost, least risk, least environmental impact, and the company has managed to double its energy efficiency targets and budgets since 2007. 95% of Seattle City Light’s energy is hydro, and there are plans in place to use other forms of renewable energy when new sources of generation are needed.
Least environmental impact has been a particularly compelling argument for energy efficiency in Seattle. The company is mindful of this as its consumers and the community want to highlight the least environmental impact aspect and highlight those values, and there is the additional benefit of helping to mitigate the risk of future environmental impact, according to Mr. Atwood.
Energy efficiency has proved to be a cost-effective strategy for building economies across the country without necessarily growing consumption, and this is true of Seattle, as well. The money saved in energy efficiency stays-in a multiplier effect-within the community in terms of economic benefit, so this policy has multiple benefits for everyone involved. Seattle City Light can be used an example for other utilities companies in the U.S. to move towards the same goals.
The entire article can be found in the Intelligent Utility website here.