Jun 18 2008
As Chair of the Seattle City Council’s Energy and Technology Committee, it is my job to make recommendations on policy and legislative matters regarding your largest public utility – Seattle City Light. My role includes reviewing its finances, rates, conservation policies and strategic plan. However, every four years I assume the role of “Board Chair” to examine whether the leader should keep his or her job or, in the alternative, whether new leadership is needed. That was the case four years ago when City Light Superintendent Gary Zarker was not confirmed.
How do you evaluate a CEO? Rate payers care about competitive and predictable rates. Customers care about customer service. Employees care about morale, trust and fairness in their workplace. Union members care about jobs for their members. Citizen advisors are concerned about the stability, predictability and condition of the utility’s aging network. Conservationists are concerned about City Light’s efforts to use new and renewable forms of energy and commitment toward sustainability. A strong evaluation considers all of these factors.
Personally, I was not looking for acceptable leadership or simple “competence.” I want remarkable leadership that understands what it takes to steer City Light back to its rightful place as one of the top public utilities in the nation. I believe that Superintendent Carrasco has set the wheels in motion to achieve that. The rates have remained competitive and stable, customer service has vastly improved, and progress is being made on an accelerated conservation plan that will account for 36% of new resources by 2020. Despite these achievements, City Light has issues that still require attention.