City Light Publishers

Seattle City Light

Seattle City Light is the public utility providing electrical power to Seattle, Washington 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.

Seattle's electricity supply

For the year 2006, the fuel mix for Seattle City Light was approximately 89.8% hydroelectric, 4.6% nuclear, 3.5% wind, 1.1% natural gas, 0.9% coal, and 0.1% other sources. The utility owns and operates the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project, a series of three hydroelectric dams on the Skagit River in northern Washington State. The project supplies approximately 25 percent of Seattle’s electric power. The utility also owns and operates the Boundary Hydroelectric Project on the Pend Oreille River which can provide up to approximately 50% of Seattle's electric power. The remaining power comes from a mix of sources, including long-term contracts with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).


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. Mission Statement: Seattle City Light is in business to sustain and enhance the community's quality of life by providing excellent energy services to our customers and to be the most customer-focused, competitive, efficient, innovative, environmentally responsible utility in the United States.


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