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Council approves increases in Seattle City Light costs

The Seattle City Council voted Monday in favor of adopting City Light’s new 2019-2024 strategic plan, which proposes a hike in electricity rates that will add $3.77 per month to residential bills in 2019.

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“Rate design hasn’t been significantly updated since the 1980s, and this work is long overdue,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said.

The council passed a resolution in support of the strategic plan. This means that the average home will pay around $68.77 per month on electricity. By the end of the six-year contract, the average household will be paying $84.59 per month. Mosqueda’s office says the council may consider additional changes in 2019 to ease the impact of the rate increase.

“Today’s 8-1 vote adopted the Seattle City Light Strategic Plan and the rate path proposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan and includes a request from the Mayor to transmit a rate path, including an average 4.5 percent rate increase over the next six years – averaging about $3.77 per month for the typical residential customer in 2019,” Mosqueda’s office said. “These rate increases are lower than what was originally proposed by City Light …”

“As part of the Strategic Plan, City Light will work to reduce the costs associated with large capital projects, as well as Operations and Maintenance costs, with a priority on promoting good, living-wage jobs, workforce stability, and continuing to deliver affordable and clean electricity to customers while maintaining worker safety. Highlights include the Council-added initiative to meaningfully address workplace culture concerns, particularly with respect to gender- and race-based harassment, and fear of retaliation among staff; operationalizing institutional memory, so when workers retire, we don’t lose their knowledge of how the utility operates; and a continued emphasis on energy and nature conservation, ensuring that Seattle City Light remains the Nation’s greenest utility.”

City Light originally sought a higher rate hike, blaming customers’ efforts to conserve energy – meaning customers would pay less – and the cost of maintaining the utility’s hydroelectric dams, wires, poles and other infrastructure for their loss in revenue.

This comes on the tails of Mayor Jenny Durkan asking City Light to cut projected costs by about $360 million over six years.

MyNorthwest contributed to this article.

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