I am always concerned about saving taxpayer and ratepayer money. Based on my concern relative to City Light’s Operations and Maintenance (O&M) expenditures, I sponsored a proviso in the 2009 budget which limited their Distribution Services overtime expenditure to $3,000,000. The proviso further stated that authorization to exceed this limit will not be granted until the Utility provides Council with a written explanation of how overtime will be managed in the future. In 2009, City Light responded by taking measures to manage and control their overtime spending. The controls resulted in an 18% reduction in overtime spending compared to 2008 and 21% reduction from 2007.
Here are a few practical steps that were taken to improve crew efficiency:
- 1. Limiting monthly mandatory safety meetings to approximately 1 hour
- 2. Eliminating non-essential group meetings
- 3. Reducing training time or combining it with other activities
- 4. Decreasing “loading dock” setup and breakdown time
I applaud City Light and its crews on their efforts to curtail overtime spending and I understand that some level of overtime is necessary. Even with decreased overtime, City Light has done a great job of keeping outages at or below their goal of 1 per month. I will continue to look for ways to create efficiencies at the Utility and keep rates low. Again, these efforts do not exclude our work on conservation, building a reliable infrastructure or deferring to the good judgment of our field workers. It is however, an acknowledgment that City Light must remain a high performing organization and we will continue to look at ways to operate more efficiently.
On January 26, 2010 I wrote a letter to United States Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke explaining my directive to City light to produce a Smart Grid plan for the Council. This plan will be used to help the Council determine the best course for a Smart Grid implementation.
As you may know, President Obama has charged Secretary Locke and the U.S. Department of Commerce to develop a nationwide strategy to build a Smart Grid. I want to make sure our national leadership stays apprised of our activities in Seattle and make sure we preserve our reputation of having a competitive edge here. We must continue to preserve our image as being an innovative, forward-thinking and healthy environment for businesses and families.
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Mentoring Month Proclamation
Today, during Full Council, this year’s first joint Mayoral and Council Proclamation was presented recognizing January as Mentoring Month. I sponsored this proclamation and asked Mayor Mike McGinn and Councilmember Licata to join me. The proclamation calls upon public officials, businesses, public and private agencies, religious and community leaders, educators, and all Seattleites to support mentoring and give young people in our community the gift of time and friendship through mentoring programs.
Mentoring programs depend on volunteer mentors. I believe mentors can play a powerful role in a child’s life. When mentors care, they can help reduce youth violence and give a young person the hope to lead a healthy and productive life. This proclamation raises the awareness of the importance of mentoring. Our City must make the city-wide call to recruit individuals and create an ecosystem that produces better students, better people, and a better community.
Columbia Ridge Exterior
You may recall in April of 2009 I presented legislation to the Full Council that passed which allowed City Light to enter into a 20 year power purchase agreement with Waste Management Inc. This agreement allows Seattle to receive electrical output and renewable energy credits from the Columbia Ridge Land Fill Gas (LFG) electric generating facility in Oregon. We are operational now, converting landfill gas from our garbage into energy!
Video link: Seattle City Light - Garbage to Power Program
City Light is purchasing approximately 5.78 average megawatts of power annually. This is enough to power over 5,000 homes! This is yet another element of renewable energy City Light can add to its portfolio as is required under I-937. By way of background, there are 509 LFG facilities nationwide and two-thirds of those facilities generate energy. Washington State currently has four operational facilities. As Chair of the Energy Committee, I will continue to add renewable energies to our already-clean hydroelectric power. If we generate energy from waste, it is a win-win for everyone.
Columbia Ridge Generator
I celebrated this partnership of clean power between City Light and Waste Management at a press event. Video link >>>
Following is a press release for that event. Continue Reading »
Selection of Seattle’s Police Chief will be one of the most important appointments made by Mayor Mike McGinn during his first term. Several months ago, Mayor McGinn’s transition team took the first steps by contacting the same people that former Mayor Nickels had chosen to serve on the Police Chief Selection Committee in September 2009. Additionally, Mayor McGinn added four new members. As one of the four, I have been asked and agreed to serve on this important Selection Committee.
My Criteria. While I am committed to help in the search for the person best suited to be Seattle’s Chief of Police, some of the qualities I will look for in a permanent Chief are below, but I look forward to hearing your perspective:
- Assertive enforcement of the law
- Transformational Leader
- Vast wealth of knowledge in police work
- Appreciation and respect for diverse communities
- Strong recognition of preventative measures that lead people to commit crimes
- Respect for and experience in police accountability
Inclusive Process. I believe this is an opportunity to have an inclusive process that will bring many people forward. Continue Reading »
Establishing financial policies for a billion dollar organization such as City Light cannot be taken lightly. Following the energy crisis of 2001, the Utility, the Council, the Mayor and the City Light Advisory Committee took great strides to ensure that the Utility continued to deliver reliable, low-cost and environmentally responsible power. Part of these efforts included the implementation of financial policies intended to restore and sustain the Utility’s financial health. The record is clear that thoughtful and deliberate actions were taken and our city is better for it.
In order to continually improve the Utility for the people, I have pushed for a renewed look at these policies to determine whether, given the current economic climate, any adjustments can be made to these policies. The goal is continued focus on the Utility’s core mission, but also to lower its costs and increase its efficiencies. Moreover, these policies should proactively reflect and define how the Utility addresses the fluctuations in its wholesale revenue activity.
Based on this rationale, the Energy, Technology, and Civil Rights Committee passed Resolution 31181 which establishes interim financial policies for City Light with respect to setting electric rates and on January 11, 2010 the Full Council approved these policies.
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