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Seattle Council Votes To Adopt City Light Rate Hikes

Kate Elston
07/03/2012

The Seattle City Council voted Monday to adopt City Light's new strategic plan. The plan includes a rate increase that could mean the average household will pay about $3 more a month.

TRANSCRIPT

Among other projects, the increase will fund a substation in the South Lake Union district, Seattle's first new one in 30 years. City Light says the plan will also make rates more predictable, they've fluctuated greatly over the last few years.

While the council voted unanimously to adopt the plan, the details still have to be worked out, but it will most likely mean a rate increase of about 4.7 percent every year for the next six years.

Suzanne Hartman, spokesperson for City Light: "I don't think there's another utility that's predicting six years out what their rate will be. That gives our customers some assurance of stability. I think it's a win–win for everyone."

But maybe not everyone. Lots of City Light customers — big businesses especially — were against the hike. Places like hotels and research centers will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more every year. But Seattle's energy bills are still among the lowest in the nation, thanks to reliance on hydropower.

The City Council says City Light must meet some conditions for the plan to go forward. The utility must cut some of its own budget. City Light has said it will slash $18 million in spending over the next three years. City Light will also have to ramp up its cost–cutting services to low–income customers. The council will also check back in on City Light every two years to make sure the whole strategic plan is on track.

The rates will increase starting in January.

I'm Kate Elston, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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