Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide), Chair of the Council’s Housing, Health, Energy and Workers’ Rights Committee, in coordination with Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle City Light, passed two green energy ordinances out of her committee today. The first establishes a new program for large-scale solar energy producers, producers that are City Light customers who installed solar panels for onsite building use. The second would provide authority to Seattle City Light to join the Western Energy Imbalance market to leverage its hydropower generation resources to contribute to a region-wide effort to better integrate variable renewable energy sources on the western grid.
“Together, these policies will help lessen the climate and pollution impacts harming the health of our communities and our environment. As Seattle works to expand our production of renewable energy, these are the types of policies that will help move us towards our green energy future.”
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda
“As stated in the Green New Deal Resolution passed on Monday by the City Council, energy for heating, cooling, and powering buildings accounts for more than one-third of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions. To incentivize more businesses and buildings to install solar panels, the City needs updated and consistent benefits for large producers. Not only would this legislation encourage more buildings to transition off fossil fuels and produce their own green energy, it will put more green energy back into the grid.
“Additionally, by providing Seattle City Light authority to participate in a western region-wide effort to integrate energy resources, Seattle is contributing to a larger, greener energy grid. This allows Seattle City Light’s renewable energy to be more accessible to communities outside of Seattle, contributing to cleaner air and reducing carbon emissions across the Western U.S., while generating revenues for our local utility,” Mosqueda said.
“I applaud Councilmember Mosqueda for championing these proposals I transmitted to help meet the goals of the Climate Action Plan and the Green New Deal. Seattle can lead the world by taking bold action to reduce our carbon footprint while protecting our communities from the worst impacts of climate change. We are already seeing these impacts – from wildfires that choke our air to extreme rain events flooding our streets – and they are being disproportionately felt most in communities that are already disadvantaged,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.
Mayor Jenny Durkan
“While the other Washington waits, Seattle will deploy every tool available, continuing our record in fighting climate change and accelerating our transition to a clean energy economy.”
Council Bill 119516 provides certainty to City Light customers installing solar PV larger than 100kW, such as the Bullitt Center in Capitol Hill, by compensating them for the solar energy they generate and consume onsite as well as the energy they put back on the grid.
Large solar energy producers currently have to negotiate individual compensation rates with City Light. The lack of predictability in terms of large solar installation benefits can be a barrier for more projects participating in onsite solar energy generation. To encourage more private generation of solar energy for onsite use and reduce the administrative costs of negotiating these types of contracts, City Light would establish consistent compensation terms. This legislation also includes provisions to further incentivize buildings meeting high-performing energy-efficiency standards, including special consideration for high-energy-efficiency affordable housing projects.
Council Bill 119571 would provide authority to Seattle City Light to complete its preparations to join the Western Energy Imbalance Market as planned in April 2020. Seattle City Light would be the first public power utility in the northwest to join the market, joining other large utilities in neighboring states such as Idaho Power, Portland General Electric, Puget Sound Energy, and others.
The Western Energy Imbalance Market, operated by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which has been in place since 2014, increases grid reliability, provides cost savings for its participants, and allows green utilities, such as Seattle City Light, which produces most of its energy through hydropower, to contribute to decarbonizing the electric grid throughout the western United States.
“One of the things that drew me to Seattle City Light last year, was the opportunity to help move the utility towards an even greener future,” said Debra Smith, CEO and General Manager of Seattle City Light. “The City of Seattle is uniquely positioned to be at the forefront of a green revolution and these two initiatives, which were started long before my arrival, are just the first of the exciting new offerings the people of Seattle can expect from their community-owned utility.”
“Once again, Seattle is leading the public power utilities in the Northwest by being the first public utility to join the Western Energy Imbalance Market that optimizes the grid and maximizes the value of Seattle’s hydropower resources,” said Joni Bosh, senior policy associate with the NW Energy Coalition. “We are also very pleased to see the two-year pilot solar power export payment program for City Light’s larger commercial customers, which helps fill out the City’s solar offerings beyond residential solar and utility scale solar projects.”
The two green energy policies will go before Full Council on Tuesday, Sept. 3, after the Labor Day holiday.