Climate Change and Energy

At City Light, combating the climate crisis starts with delivering carbon-neutral, renewable energy while protecting the wildlife and habitats surrounding our hydroelectric operations.

But it doesn't stop there. We also support research to better understand the effects of climate change on the long-term health of the utility and the environmental resources we help to protect. Our goal is to ensure we can continue to deliver on our mission of generating and delivering environmentally responsible, safe, low-cost, and reliable power as the climate changes.

We're a proud participant in the U.S. Department of Energy Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience, and we continuously prepare for climate change by using the latest climate science, assessing our impacts and system vulnerabilities, and by integration of climate equity into our adaption strategies. 

We Are Carbon Neutral

In 2005, Seattle City Light became the first electric utility in the country to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions. We have maintained that carbon neutral status every year since.

City Light uses hydroelectric resources for most of the power we provide, which is one reason our greenhouse gas emissions are so low. Our carbon emissions are further reduced by our aggressive energy efficiency and conservation programs, which help customers save energy and money. Renewable energy projects have been added to our power mix, including wind, and additionally, we have an integrated resource plan that relies on only new renewables and energy efficiency to meet future load growth.

Every year, we complete an inventory of the utility's greenhouse gas emissions. The largest source is from market purchases of power, both directly by City Light and through the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Other sources include fossil fuels used in vehicles and equipment, leakage of SF6 (a potent greenhouse gas used in electrical equipment), employee air travel, and natural gas used for building and water heat and fuel in emergency generators. To maintain our Carbon Neutral status, we purchase offsets for these emissions which are registered through organizations like the Climate Action Reserve and the Verified Carbon Standard

Why Plan for Climate Change?

  • Climate change is happening now. Temperatures have warmed and the effects of this on snowpack, heatwaves and extreme weather have been detected both locally and globally.
  • These impacts are expected to intensify, with new effects emerging in the 21st century, regardless of the reductions in greenhouse gases.
  • Decisions are being made today that will shape the resources and infrastructure of the utility for decades to come.
  • It is easier and more cost-effective to plan for the impacts of climate change in the design of new infrastructure and selection of power resources now than it will be to retrofit or replace once impacts intensify.

Impacts of Climate Change and Our Adaptive Actions

There are important climate change impacts that could affect aspects of City Light's operations. We are taking actions to adapt our business practices to address these five impacts:

  • Shoreline properties
  • Hydroelectric project operations
  • Electricity demand
  • Transmission and distribution
  • Fish habitat protection and restoration

Read our Climate Change Adaptation Plan to learn more.