Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

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Archive for the 'Energy' Category

Dec 16 2009

Councilmember Harrell Calls for a Smart Grid

This afternoon (12/16/09), I issued a press release calling for a Smart Grid. Below is a post with more information.

System would save people money, modernize City Light’s basic infrastructure and increase reliability and conservation

SEATTLE – In an effort to position City Light on the cutting edge of customer service, Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell has directed the Utility to develop a specific plan for the development of a Smart Grid in 2010. “I want a plan that puts the Full Council and the Executive in a position to make a funding decision for Smart Grid deployment by the middle of 2010,” says Councilmember Harrell. A Smart Grid basically adds two-way communication technology to the existing electrical grid where power and information can flow between the utility and the customer to create a system that operates more efficiently and reliably. It will also result in giving customers more control over their power consumption.

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Dec 16 2009

Why I am calling for the development of a Smart Grid: A Forward Thinking Vision to Deliver Low-Cost, Clean Electricity

Seattle City Light is uniquely positioned to provide low-cost, clean electricity to our customers—who own the public utility. Approximately 88.83% of Seattle City Light’s electricity generation is from hydro, a renewable energy. In comparison, about 50% of the United States electrical production comes from coal. The carbon footprint of coal is approximately 1000 grams of CO2 per kWh of electricity generated when compared to 10-30 grams of CO2 per kWh of electricity generated from hydro. Seattle City Light offers an average rate of 6.42 cents per kWh, compared to the national average of 9.7 cents per kWh. With the commitment Seattle and Washington state has demonstrated with the passage of I-937 in 2006 (3%-renewable energy of its load by 2012, 9%-renewable energy of its load by 2016, and 15%-renewable energy of its load by 2020) and Seattle City Light’s commitment with a 5-Year Conservation Plan to avoid 1 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, what is the next step to continue providing the lowest rates and the cleanest electricity in Seattle?

That next step is Smart Grid. IBM’s slogan is “building a smarter planet.” Smart grid is the answer for building a smarter Seattle. Smart grid is a revolutionary change in how a utility generates and distributes electricity. The revolution has begun, with a federal stimulus package of $3.4 billion for smart grid technology. From these funds, $9.6 million was granted to Seattle City Light and the University of Washington for the development of a “smart micro grid” on the Seattle campus. Consumer education and engaging the public on what exactly is a smart grid and how it helps residents is absolutely vital as we discuss the development of a smart grid. Continue Reading »

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Dec 06 2009

City Light Reaches Elite Status: 2009 Accomplishments

Our Energy and Technology Committee recently reviewed City Light’s key milestones for the 2009 year. I am very pleased to report that City Light has been rated as an “Elite Utility” in terms of customer service by J.D. Power and Associates.

Customer Service: City Light continues to improve their customer service. From a base of 84,000 streetlights, in 2008, 19,067 were reported out. In 2009, 12,799 were reported out, which is a 6,268 reduction. The reduction is even greater when we look back to 2004 where there were 23,367 outages. Based on our policy directives, the Utility is on track to achieve a 10-14 day turnaround on streetlight repair in 2010 and outages have been significantly reduced. In addition, phase two of a group re-lamping scheme will be completed by the end of 2009, with phases three and four on track for completion in 2010 and 2011. We have seen great improvement on the streetlight issue and our plan calls for City Light to improve even more. Also, our push for E-billing has become a reality and to date, 26,000 customers have signed up so far. In 2010, I have added “Customer Service” to the ETC committee’s responsibilities as a means to examine City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and the city’s Customer Service Bureau to conduct a “best practices” approach to customer service.

System Reliability. System reliability continues to significantly improve. The average number of outages per customer has fallen below the Utility goal of one per year. We continue to examine the problem areas in our City with an aging underground system and have allocated substantial budget dollars toward their repair. We are also addressing this by injecting gel into the cables. This strengthens the integrity of the cable and extends its life at a lower cost than replacing.

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Oct 20 2009

Special Energy and Technology Committee Meetings to Discuss City Light Budget, Rate Process and Financial Policies

The City Council’s Energy and Technology Committee (ETC) will meet on Wednesday, October 21 at 9:30 a.m. to discuss Seattle City Light’s proposed budget, rate adjustment process, and revenue requirements. The meeting will be the first of three final meetings on the rate process and its components. Jorge Carrasco, City Light Superintendent, will brief the Committee, along with other City Light officers and Council’s central staff. In addition the ETC will hold special meetings Wednesday, November 4th at 5:30 p.m. and Thursday, November 5th at 2:00 p.m. I am encouraging the public attend the meetings and voice their opinion.

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Oct 04 2009

What We are Doing to Prepare for Plug-in Electric Vehicles

During the budget process of 2009, my ETC committee developed a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) which directed Seattle City Light to explore policies and procedures meant to encourage and accommodate the use of plug-in electric vehicles in Seattle (EVs). Given the overlapping policy issues of building an electric vehicle infrastructure, theses efforts are being handled jointly by our Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) and City Light.

EVs are coming to Seattle. We currently have 150 EVs registered in our city which are mostly the “neighborhood electric vehicles” that are not permitted to exceed 35 MPH. As the technology continues to emerge, the number of EVs on our streets and highways will grow.

On September 30, 2009 at our Energy and Technology Committee meeting, I requested the Interim Director of OSE, Michael Mann to present the response to the Council’s SLI. Following is language from OSE and City Light’s SLI response which describes steps to ensure that our city is prepared for electric passenger vehicles in the fall of 2010. I think you will find it interesting.

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Sep 27 2009

Microsoft Hohm: City Light Continues to Promote Conservation with Microsoft Partnership

On June 27, 2009, I posted a piece informing you of a partnership between City Light and Microsoft on a project called Hohm. This partnership gives participating City Light customers the ability to link their electricity consumption data with Hohm. The Beta version of Microsoft Hohm debuted in June and City Light is the first utility to announce that their customers can connect with an easy, automatic data feed.

Here is how it works. Using advanced analytical tools to assess participating customers’ energy data, home features and appliances, Hohm will use this information to identify personalized recommendations on saving energy. Hohm is free! I encourage you to sign up and learn how to start saving.

To learn more, or sign up to participate please click: www.microsoft-hohm.com

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