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Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Mar 03 2009

Electronic Billing:
Save some green and keep us green!

Published by at 9:47 pm under Energy & Technology Committee

For the last two years I have pushed our City to reduce its expenses by using paperless billing systems as an option for those customers who want it. We can reduce labor, postage, paper and time. This will save some green and keep us green. Last February (2009), the new Electronic Billing and Payment System went online for all Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities customers to sign up. I was involved in the beta testing prior to its launch. To sign up, please visit

My review of the data from 2007 showed that Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities sent out 3.6 million bills over postal mail annually, costing roughly $875,000 in postage. Originally, an older E-Billing system allowed customers the option to continue receiving their paper bill. This is no longer an option. Once you enroll into E-Billing, you will no longer receive a paper bill. The reason for the opt-in, paper opt-out alteration was that the trend in E-Billing showed that less than 10 percent would opt out of paper billing after signing up for E-Billing. For both small and big businesses and building managers, managing bills just got easier and maybe less expensive, because multiple accounts can be managed from this E-Billing system.

Prior to this new and improved online E-Billing system, Seattle City Light received 460,000 online payments in 2006 from an estimated 2.5 million bills. Seattle Public Utilities received 253,000 online payments out of 1.1 million bills. This E-Billing system is not mandated for SCL and SPU customers, and customers may choose to continue to receive a paper bill by mail and payment by mail.

In my communications with the public, it became clear that many of our customers want an E-Billing system and despite the pace of bringing a secured, simple, E-Billing system online, I am encouraging rate payers to sign up for E-Billing. A recent residential technology survey showed that 88% of Seattleites are online and at least 50% of Internet users pay at least one bill online, so hopefully the vast majority of customers decide to make the change to online billing.

I am driving the Citizen Engagement Portal Initiative and one of the initiative’s objectives is to integrate all City online services into one simple, easy online service location with the implementation of a ‘Single Sign-On’ system. This E-Billing service will be an optional integration for your City account.

To sign up for Electronic Billing, visit the website:

To sign up for Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utility Electronic Billing, you will need a:

  • A Visa/MasterCard credit/debit card, checking account, or e-check
  • Utility account number
  • Zip code from bill’s mailing address.
  • *There are no transaction service fees and payments are posted on normal business days.

    E-Billing application features:

  • 1) E-Mail notification that bill has been issued.
  • 2) Display the bill (up to 24 months of billing history)
  • 3) Archive the bill
  • 4) Payment History and Details
  • 5) Payment Method
    • Visa, Master Card, Checking Account, and E-Check
    • Schedule recurring payments
    • One-Click Payment
  • 6) E-mail confirmation that payment has been made.

If you have any questions regarding the E-Billing system, please call Customer Service at 206-684-3000 or my office at 206-684-8804.

Based on my own personal experience, it is simple and easy. It takes only a few minutes to setup and to make a payment.

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Save some green and keep us green!

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