Celebrating our renewable energy future

Thursday, March 21, 2024 is National Renewable Energy Day, and City Light has many reasons to be thankful and celebrate.

The composition of US renewable energy

A view from the Diablo Dam, with Mount Burg visible above it

It can be a surprise that only around 20% of the US electricity is obtained from renewable energy resources. The majority of our country's energy resources come from non-renewable fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas (60%) and the rest from nuclear power.

With the increasing impact of climate change, weaning off dependence on fossil fuels for energy resources is a priority. Especially when you consider that energy consumption is estimated to increase 50% by mid-century.

Clean vs. Green vs. Renewable

What exactly? renewable energy you can ask The language around the energy industry can be quite confusing. Is it clean, green or renewable? Sometimes it can be more than one.

Renewable energy and green energy are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference. Most green energy resources can also be renewable, but not all renewable energy resources can be considered green.

The resources that make up renewable energy, such as wind and sun, are naturally and continuously renewed. Hydropower is an excellent example of renewable energy. It is a flexible resource that relies on the water cycle for its replenishment. For a renewable energy resource to be excluded from being called green, there are generally some carbon emissions associated with its generation.

Considered clean energy resources produce little or no greenhouse emissions during their production and storage. An example of clean energy that is not renewable would be hydrogen fuel cells.

Fortunately, here at Seattle City Light, we benefit greatly from renewable energy resources.

City Light's Power Mix

Currently, more than 88% of the energy we supply is generated from renewable hydropower. Up to 40% comes directly from our wholly owned Skagit and Boundary hydroelectric projects on the Skagit and Pend Oreille rivers. The energy we do not generate is then purchased from a mix of energy resources provided by the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA) and other renewable sources to meet demand. Additionally, 5% of our electricity comes from wind, 4% from nuclear and 1% from biogas. City Light has no coal or natural gas in its resource mix, making the energy flowing into our customers' homes a win for the environment.

Seattle City Light's Energy Resources 1 2

1 City Light has no coal or natural gas resources in its energy portfolio. It makes market purchases to balance or match its loads and resources. These purchases, along with market purchases made by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), may incidentally include coal or natural gas resources allocated to the utility. Any emissions associated with unspecified market purchases are offset through our greenhouse gas (GHG) neutrality policy. 2 This fuel represents a portion of the energy purchased from BPA.

In fact, City Light continues to look to the future as we discover more renewable sources from which to obtain energy. Recommendations that are listed 2022 Integrated Resource Plan identify the need to add approximately 175 MW of solar and 225 MW of wind to our portfolio over the next 10 years. These renewable sources are critical to powering our energy future here in Seattle.

Green Up opportunities

For customers looking to take their energy consumption a step further, City Light offers a program that allows them to support the continued growth of renewable energy right here in our community. Green Up: is a voluntary renewable energy program that allows support for wind, solar and other renewable energy projects that generate carbon-free energy in the Pacific Northwest.

Installation of solar panels on a roof with trees in the background.
Part of a solar installation at Brighton Senior Housing

City Light purchases regional renewable energy credits (RECs) on behalf of Green Up customers and funds local rooftop solar projects hosted by nonprofits and community organizations such as affordable housing, schools and parks. Some of our recent projects include community solar installations Evergreen Aquatic Center in White Center and: Brighton Senior Housing in Rainier Valley.

As energy demand continues to grow, so will the need to diversify opportunities and maximize cost savings while combating the negative effects of climate change. City Light is ready to meet this challenge.

Visit City Light's to learn more Renewable energy services p.

Leave a Comment