Seattle City Light

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Seattle City Light
Seattle City Light Logo.png
Agency overview
Formed 1905: The first municipally owned hydro facility, Cedar Falls, begins generating power for Seattle
Type Electric utility
Jurisdiction City of Seattle and some outlying communities
Headquarters Municipal Tower, 700 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, Washington, United States
Employees 1,811
Agency executive Jorge Carrasco, General Manager
Seattle City Light south service center, 1998.

Seattle City Light is the public utility providing electrical power to Seattle, Washington, US, and parts of its metropolitan area, including all of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park and parts of unincorporated King County, Burien, Normandy Park, Seatac, Renton, and Tukwila.[1] Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public utility in the United States and the first municipal utility in the US to own and operate a hydroelectric facility.

Seattle City Light is a department of the City of Seattle and is governed by Seattle City Council. Socialist Council Member Kshama Sawant heads the committee that oversees Seattle City Light.


The approximately 776,336 residents (418,000 metered customers) served by Seattle City Light use about 9,466,642 megawatt-hours annually.[2] Seattle City Light was the first electric utility in the nation to become greenhouse gas neutral (2005)[3] and has the longest running energy conservation program in the country. The utility owns a large portion of its generation, which is predominately hydro, so is able to offer some of the country's lowest rates to its customers (of utilities in urban areas).[4] Seattle City Light's customer breakdown shows about 362,658 residential customers consuming about 3,098,745 megawatt-hours and 39,950 non-residential customers consuming about 6,367,897 megawatt hours.[5]
To help rate predictability for customers and budget predictability for the utility, Seattle City Light presented a 6-year Strategic Pan to Seattle City Council. The plan was approved in an 8-0 vote.
A current media campaign has Seattle City Light referring to itself as "The Nation's Greenest Utility." [6]


Cover of Seattle City Light Yearbook, 1926

Public responsibility for electrical energy in Seattle dates to 1890 with creation of the Department of Lighting and Water Works. In 1902, Seattle voters passed a bond issue to develop hydroelectric power on the Cedar River (Washington) under the administration of the Water Department. Electricity from this development began to serve Seattle in 1905. A City Charter amendment in 1910 created the Lighting Department. Under the leadership of Superintendent James D. Ross, the department developed the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project, which began supplying power in 1924. Both public and private power were supplied to Seattle until 1951 when the City purchased the private electrical power supply operations, making the Lighting Department the sole supplier. The Boundary Project in northern Washington began operation in 1967 and currently supplies over half of City Light's power generation. Approximately ten percent of City Light's income comes from the sale of surplus energy to customers in the Northwest and Southwest. The current name of the agency was adopted in 1978 when the Department was reorganized.[7]

Seattle's electricity supply[edit]

For 2012, the fuel mix for Seattle City Light was approximately 89.8% hydroelectric, 4.4% nuclear, 3.9% wind, 0.8% coal, 0.6% other (including biomass, natural gas, petroleum and waste), and 0.5% landfill gases.[8] The remaining power comes from a mix of sources, including long-term contracts with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).

Owned facilities[edit]

The utility owns and operates a total of seven hydro facilities:

Seattle City Light residential customers currently pay about 8 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity. Seattle has the lowest residential and commercial electrical rates among comparably-sized cities in the United States.[9]

Innovation and Technology[edit]

Conservation Programs[edit]

Seattle City Light implemented its first conservation programs in 1977 after the Seattle Council voted against funding new nuclear plants based on a publication by Seattle City Light called "Energy 1990." The utility has continued to offer conservation options to customers since then, making it the longest running electricity conservation effort in the country.

LED Streetlights[edit]

On July 7, 2010 City Light began installing the first of 40,000 new LED street lights over the next five years.[10]

November 2013 Seattle City Light completed this conversion ahead of schedule. The LED replacement will continue with arterial streets and commercial areas with ornamental-type fixtures.

Community-owned Solar[edit]

In 2010, Seattle City Light received a U.S. Department of Energy grant to develop and implement a solar project that would provide power and/or financial benefit to members of the community. The Community Solar program allows any Seattle City Light customer to invest in solar energy. The first installation was on the roofs of picnic shelters at Jefferson Park, and the second was at the Seattle Aquarium.



  • General Manager & CEO, Jorge Carrasco
  • Chief of Staff, Sephir Hamilton
  • Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Bishop
  • Customer Service and Energy Delivery Officer, Phil West
  • Compliance Officer, Jim Baggs
  • Human Resources Officer, DaVonna Johnson
  • Power Supply and Environmental Affairs Officer, Mike Jones

Past Leadership[edit]

  • R.M. Arms, 1910-1911
  • James D. Ross, 1911-1931
  • The Board of Public Works administered the Lighting Department, March 1931-May 1931
  • W. Chester Morse, May 1931-July 1931
  • James D. Ross, July 1931-March 1939
  • W.C. McKeen, March 1939-May 1939
  • Eugene R. Hoffman, May 1939-December 1953
  • Paul J. Raver, January 1954-April 1963
  • John M. Nelson, April 1963-June 1972
  • Gordon Vickery, June 1972-December 1979
  • Robert H. Murray, January 1980-February 1981
  • Joseph P. Recchi, February 1981-August 1984
  • Randall W. Hardy, August 1984-September 1992
  • Roberta Palm Bradley, September 1992-December 1994
  • Gary E. Zarker, December 1994-June 2003
  • Jorge Carrasco, February 2004 – present


External links[edit]