Proposed City Light Rate Increase Would Affect Most Burien Residents

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by Ralph Nichols

A proposed 8.8 percent rate increase by Seattle City Light, which would begin in January, “will affect most of our residents,” Burien City Manager Mike Martin said last week.

City Light provides electrical service to almost all of Burien and all of the North Highline area. The Seattle City Council will vote on whether to accept or amend the rate increase request later this month.

Included in City Light’s rate analysis supporting the proposed increase are additional increases of 5.4 percent in 2011 and 6.6 percent in 2012.

Because City Light is a publicly owned utility, it is not regulated by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Oversight comes instead from the Seattle City Council.

Martin said Burien has asked City Light for clarification about the need for a rate hike at this time, “since it will affect so many of our residents,” but has not yet received a reply.

Outgoing Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels called for the increase when he submitted in September his proposed 2010 budget.

In a report to the Burien City Council, Martin noted that reasons given for a higher power rate when Nickels announced his budget proposal were the poor economy, a sharp decline in sales of surplus power and a larger-than-proposed rate decrease in 2007.

Surplus power sales have been driven down by low natural-gas prices, according to Seattle budget director Dwight Dively. While Seattle’s 2009 budget anticipated surplus power sales of $140 million, only about half that amount has been sold – leaving City Light with a $70 million shortfall.

Martin added that City Light also says the increase is needed to maintain its net operating income reserve, although “there is no legal reserve requirement” for that reserve as structured by the utility.

Citing City Light’s reference to cash flow, Martin replied, “The economy is also hurting our residents’ cash flow.”

In a statement to The B-Town Blog, he said, “At this time, it’s still not entirely clear what’s going on.” Burien staff will seek more information from City Light within the next couple of weeks.

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3 Responses to “Proposed City Light Rate Increase Would Affect Most Burien Residents”
  1. Greg Fox says:

    Maybe Burien should try Puget Sound Electic (PSE) like Des Moines. The rates appear to be a bit more in line with the economy…

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  2. HoBo says:

    Leave SCL for PSE? You got to be kidding!

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  3. Mike Bishoff says:

    When I moved from Burien to Normandy Park my rates went from 8.8 cents per kwh to 10 cents per kwh using PSE. Why does PSE charge so much? That’s an over 10% increase by just crossing the city line from Burien to NP. Wonder what’s different? The electricity seems to work just the same. PSE charges more for everything! Service call, rates and whatever. PSE is a rip off.

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