The passage of an aggressive Climate Action Plan by the Seattle City Council is an important milestone on the path to carbon neutrality, according to CEO and General Manager of Seattle City Light, Jorge Carrasco. Other positive signs can be found in the news, such as Facebook’s announcement of a 100% carbon neutral data center and the first carbon neutral Olympic games in 2014.
Seattle City Light Forges a Carbon Neutral Path
For over one hundred years, Seattle City Light has made the core of their business environmental responsibility. Not only focused on reducing their own carbon footprint, but continuously providing innovative solutions for its consumers to do so as well. Their efforts have paid off. Seattle has the lowest residential and commercial electrical rates of the top 25 largest cities in the United States. They are the architects of some of the most generous green initiatives and the most forgiving monthly electric bills, paving the way by informing residents about ways to efficiently use power with simple and non-obtrusive day-to-day modifications.
CEO of Seattle City Light Jorge Carrasco has forged a carbon-neutral path. From conceptualization to implementation, this model will have an impact on a national and then a global level. Carbon neutrality is a concept more commonly understood as offsetting the carbon footprint on the environment by participating in energy efficient, eco-friendly initiatives.
2005 marked the year Seattle City Light became the first electric utility in the US to reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions. They have maintained that carbon neutral status every year since, making City Light the greenest electric utility in the United States.
Carbon Neutrality in Action
General Manager of Seattle City Light Jorge Carrasco participates in purchasing carbon offsets from two sources. One, reductions made with composting efforts and a second, biodiesel fuel for state official vehicles, including busses and ferries. They also partake in various city infrastructure projects.
Seattle City Light is currently working on converting over 50 percent of Seattle’s residential streetlights from sodium to LED. Sodium tends to burn out every three to four years, in contrast to LED white light which lasts for 12 years. After that time they dim instead of burning out completely, consuming 40 percent less energy. The move from sodium to LED impacts quality of life for its residents, affecting overall neighborhood safety and encouraging wellness via more outside play time for children. It is an environmental gift that will continue to give for many generations to come. Once the conversion is complete, the city will save approximately $2.5 million per year.
In another carbon offsetting effort, Seattle City Light has established strategic use of hydroelectric power. 90 percent of the power it provides in the greater Seattle area is generated from watersheds at the Nooksack and Skagit Rivers.
Seattle City Light has taken extreme measures to contribute to the habitat of the fish who call the local Skagit and Nooksack River basins home. They have built specially designed instruments to keep fish out of the dam powerhouses, built fish-friendly bridges and ladders, and provided guaranteed in-stream flows to aid the salmon in their travels. Various types of salmon, including Chinook, Coho and Steelhead, are all at healthy spawning levels. Wildlife in the surrounding 8,000+ acres of land that City Light purchased are also benefiting from the healthy outputs.
Another sustainability initiative is tree-planting. Seattle City Light orchestrates neighborhood tree planting events and has formed agreements with local, state and tribal authorities to ensure greater protection of the natural environment. They offset between 100,000 and 300,000 metric tons of carbon emissions each year.
They have achieved consistent carbon neutrality through recent years with their innovative technologies and an unfailing environmental consciousness. Their work is also a catalyst for cost-effective energy production, efficient consumption and environmental responsibility across the industry and across a national consumer base. Seattle City Light has taken the helm in creating a safer, sustainable environment for generations to come. With the needs of future generations at the forefront, this is “pay it forward” on a global scale.
Energy efficiency and environmental protection have become important issues for communities. In an effort to help communities improve economies and achieve sustainability, Seattle City Light continues to introduce green electricity utility products and services in Seattle. General Manager and CEO of Seattle City Light Jorge Carrasco is dedicated to upholding the traditions this organization represents: innovation, eco-friendliness, efficiency and affordability.