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Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Archive for April, 2008

Apr 22 2008

Digital Television Transition on February 17, 2009

converterboxOn February 17, 2009, all television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to 100% digital broadcasting. This switch represents the most significant change in television since color TV. Digital broadcasting delivers a better picture, better sound, more programming choices, and will free up frequencies for public safety communications. However, it is estimated that 20% of Seattle residents have non-cable analog TV and will be affected by this transition.
dtv_couponThe Federal Government created the TV Converter Box Coupon Program for households wishing to keep using their analog TV sets. The Program allows households to obtain up to two coupons, each worth $40, which can be applied toward the cost of eligible converter boxes. The boxes are priced between $50 and $70 and sold at mainstream electronics retailers. A television connected to cable, satellite or other pay TV service does not require a converter box.

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Apr 21 2008

Boulder Creek

bouldercreekCouncil Bill 116174 was passed by Full Council on April 21st, 2008. This Ordinance accepts a deed to the 1,080-acre Boulder Creek property in the Skagit River Watershed and places the acquired properties under the jurisdiction of City Light. City Light originally purchased the property in the Cascade Watershed with $742,300 in grant funds from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Washington Department of Natural Resources and was purchased pursuant to authority under Ordinance 121114. City Light and the citizens of Seattle can be proud of City Light’s efforts in this regard. This Ordinance helps to preserve more than one thousand acres of a high quality stream and an important ecosystem for salmon, trout, and other aquatic species.

In addition, included in this deed will be 200 acres of old growth forest that provides a high quality habitat for threatened species, including Spotted Owls.

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Apr 21 2008

Sacramento Municipal Utility District


Council Bill 116176 was passed by Full Council on April 21st, 2008. This ordinance provides authority to City Light to extend an existing delivery contract with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (or SMUD). The contract extension has two components: 1) a power delivery component, and 2) a power purchase component.

The power delivery component would allow for City Light to deliver up to 15 Megawatts of energy to SMUD in exchange for SMUD deliveries of the equivalent amount of energy to City Light. This would allow City Light to continue to schedule the output of energy from the Northwest Project in Burlington, WA, and SMUD would reciprocate by providing City Light with reliable capacity and energy in the winter months.

This Ordinance allows the current 18-month contract to be extended to a ten-year term and operates in conjunction with SMUD’s ten-year agreement with Sierra Pacific Inc. (SPI). SMUD’s agreement with SPI provides for the purchase of a portion of the output of SPI’s new wood-waste (biomass) co-generation project in Burlington, Washington. Because of the location of this project, SMUD required a counterpart to provide delivery services from the site. While City Light is currently providing that service on a short-term basis, it now brings the request before the Full Council and seeks authority to continue to provide the service for the term of the contract.

The power purchase component will allow City Light to purchase energy from the project in excess of the agreed delivery amount. In other words, City Light will be in a position to purchase power at cost, even though the amount of energy is very small (approximately 3 average megawatts). While the contract cost is $62 per megawatt-hour (with a contract escalation rate of 1.75% per year), we know these figures will likely remain competitive over the term of the contract.

Also, Committee member Conlin wisely asked about whether the SPI wood waste power was considered carbon neutral. The project plant has been certified carbon neutral by Green-E, the national certifier of renewable energy, and the California Energy Commission. Because the output from the plant is considered carbon neutral, the project will help City Light meet its requirements under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard established through Initiative 937. However, as to not overstate the green effects of this transaction, the payment in energy that City Light will receive from Sacramento for the delivery service is not carbon neutral and City Light estimates that the energy will add approximately 7,800 metric tons of carbon to its balance sheet that will need to be offset and such costs were factored into this analysis.

In sum, passage of this legislation will contribute to meeting three of City Light’s Integrated Resource Plan goals: resource adequacy, adding new renewable resources, and reducing portfolio volatility.

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