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Seattle City Light seeks commercial building owners for conservation project


From the December 6, 2012 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published December 6, 2012

Seattle City Light is looking for three commercial office buildings to test an energy conservation concept known as "pay-for-performance" in a three-year pilot program the utility believes will be the only one of its kind in the country.

"This approach gives businesses flexibility to pursue electricity savings opportunities that will be of most benefit to their businesses," Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. "It also reduces risk for the utility, since we only will be paying for actual conservation savings realized, and all of our customers benefit from the lowest cost energy available – conservation."

"By saving energy today, we reduce our need to seek new, more expensive energy sources," Carrasco said. "We are looking for businesses to be innovative and successful in creating even greater energy savings than with traditional conservation incentive programs."

City Light will pay participants in the pilot program 3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of energy savings they achieve each year. In its traditional energy conservation programs, the utility makes a one-time payment up front for expected energy savings using prescribed energy efficiency enhancements. A request for proposals issued by the municipal utility "encourages innovation and tailored energy efficiency approaches that will be the most effective for the business," City Light said.

City Light invites competitive proposals for the pilot program. A copy of City Light’s request for proposals is available online. Click "Solicitations" and look for the "Pay for Performance" file. Proposals are due by Jan. 15, 2013, at 5 p.m.

Proposers can combine capital, operations and maintenance, as well as behavioral change activities, in their responses. The utility will be reviewing the modeling tools used by customers or their partners to estimate energy savings. Customer participants will be responsible for documenting their energy-saving actions and reporting on a monthly basis with a detailed annual report summarizing key initiatives and results.

Business leaders and energy efficiency specialists have said they believe they can identify equipment, facilities and operational changes that will achieve significantly more energy savings than are estimated in the utility’s current up-front incentive programs. City Light said. The opportunity for bigger rebates based on actual performance increases the businesses’ willingness to make energy efficiency investments, the utility said.

Seattle City Light has a 35-year history of innovation in energy conservation programs and was the first utility in the country to include conservation as an energy resource. City Light said that since the mid-1970s, it has saved more than 17 million megawatt-hours of energy—enough electricity to power the households of five cities the size of Seattle for a year. 

In 2011, City Light conservation programs helped customers reduce their energy consumption by 1.1 million megawatt-hours. That is enough electricity to power 124,000 Seattle homes—one third of the utility's residential service. Customers who participated in conservation programs reduced their City Light bills by a combined $797 million, the city-owned utility said.

City Light programs also avoided the release of more than 663,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2011—the equivalent of taking 146,000 cars off the road for a year, the utility said.

City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005.

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