Category Archives: utilities

A missed opportunity that never really was

Yesterday afternoon the Council voted to declare a piece of city property to be surplus, and to allow the official owner, Seattle City Light, to sell it. Selling off surplus city property is a fairly regular occurrence, but for many reasons this one stands out as a rather frustrating exception.

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Understanding the MHA Draft Environmental Impact Statement

On June 8th, the city published a Draft Environment Impact Statement (DEIS) for the “city-wide” implementation of the Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program. It’s 462 pages of dense material.  Here’s your cheat sheet.

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Should Seattle City Light join the energy imbalance market?

Since last September, Seattle City Light has been trying to convince the City Council’s Energy and Environment Committee that it should be allowed to join the California Independent Systems Operators (CAISO) Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). On its face, it seems like an easy decision, and if SCL had done a better job on its initial pitch to the Council it might have gone through quickly. But they didn’t, and the Council members asked for more information. As the details have emerged, the case for joining the EIM has become murkier. It’s an interesting case study on the state of the power industry, and it points to some big challenges for Seattle City Light.

Let’s unpack this.

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Harrell pushing for expanding public Wi-Fi in Seattle

Wednesday afternoon in his Education, Equity and Governance Committee, Council President Bruce Harrell pushed the Seattle IT department to go farther and faster in investigating public Wi-Fi as an alternative to municipal broadband in key areas of the city.

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Council mulls over terms of solid waste disposal contract

Seattle generates a little over 300,000 tons of non-recycled solid waste per year. The contract for hauling away and disposing of all that garbage, under the auspices of Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), has been in place since 1990 and runs until 2028. But the Council is now arguing over whether it should opt out in order to put it out to bid for the first time in over a quarter century.

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City takes creative approach to digital equity

As part of the city’s “digital equity” push, in 2015 Seattle explored creating its own public internet access provider to compete with Comcast, CenturyTel, and other private companies and ensure that high-speed broadband was available uniformly across the city. However, that approach was shown to be infeasible, so the Mayor shelved the plan — despite the loud protests from Council member Sawant.

Now the City is discussing a different, creative approach that might accomplish much of the same digital equity goal.

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