Seattle, WA Goal of Zero Net Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Seattle, WA, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 7/23/01

Vote: Unanimous

Source File: Click here


Resolution Number: 30359
A RESOLUTION outlining Seattle City Light's strategy for meeting the goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions and establishing specific greenhouse gas mitigation targets and timelines.

WHEREAS, global warming represents a clear and increasingly imminent danger to the economic and environmental health of the world, and to specific qualities of life for the Seattle area including water supply, hydroelectric energy production, air quality, forest health, species protection and recreational activities; and

WHEREAS, local action to reduce greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions is consistent with Seattle's environmental commitments and its other high priority policy objectives, including competitive energy costs and promoting energy security; reducing traffic congestion; improving local air quality; salmon recovery; restoring urban forests; and improving the efficiency productivity of both public and private institutions; and

WHEREAS, energy production and consumption accounts for the vast majority of human-caused GHG emissions, and Seattle has an extraordinary opportunity to control its own electric energy future by virtue of its ownership of Seattle City Light; and

WHEREAS, Council Resolution 30144 establishes a goal of meeting the electric energy needs of Seattle with no net GHG emissions; and

WHEREAS, the Executive convened a Greenhouse Gas Advisory Committee to recommend to the Superintendent of City Light how to best meet that goal; and

WHEREAS, City Light has a unique opportunity to achieve no net GHG emissions because it has a wealth of clean hydro-electric resources including power from the Skagit River, Boundary and other dams and because City Light's innovative new contract with the Bonneville Power Administration specifies that Seattle will receive a majority of its federal power allocation from specific hydro-electric and non-fossil fuel generation resources; and

WHEREAS, City Light has made an outstanding commitment to additional energy efficiency investments and new renewable resources that are estimated to prevent an increase in GHG emissions associated with both immediate and long-term load growth over the next ten years; and

WHEREAS, to meet the no net GHG emissions goal, City Light focuses its mitigation efforts on the estimated GHG emissions associated with its resource portfolio; and

WHEREAS, the GHG emissions attributable to a utility that is mostly dependent upon hydroelectricity yet interconnected and interdependent with an enormous electricity grid is difficult to assess with precision; and

WHEREAS, not withstanding this uncertainty, City Light, in consultation with the Advisory Committee comprised of experts from academic institutions, state and regional agencies, private business, City Light customers, and public interest organizations reached consensus on a method for calculating City Light's current and likely future GHG emissions and a process for mitigating those emissions; and

WHEREAS, GHG emission offsets of sufficient quantity and quality are currently available to compensate for GHG emissions attributable to City Light at a modest cost; and

WHEREAS, City Light is currently gaining valuable experience in the market for GHG offsets as it selects and contracts with projects to mitigate for its power purchase from the Klamath Cogeneration Facility; and

WHEREAS, early action to mitigate GHG emissions takes advantage of relatively inexpensive mitigation options that may not be available in the future;


1. Seattle City Light will continue to reduce its GHG emissions as quickly and aggressively as possible through energy efficiency and renewable energy resource investments. As a matter of policy, reducing or avoiding the environmental impacts of energy production and use through efficiency and the development of new renewables is preferable to mitigating or offsetting those impacts. Investments in efficiency and renewables will be counted toward meeting the estimated mitigation obligation only if they reduce the amount of fossil fuel resources in City Light's portfolio.

2. City Light will expeditiously execute commitments to mitigate for all of the GHG emissions attributable to it, according to the following terms:

a. The initial "GHG footprint" for City Light is estimated to mitigate for 150 average MW of fossil fuel resources. The output of these resources is converted to carbon dioxide equivalents for mitigation purposes.
i. The GHG emissions associated with the power purchase from the Klamath Cogeneration project are estimated to be 247, 752 metric tons of CO2 annually from July 1, 2001 through June 30, 2005.
ii. The GHG emissions associated with market purchases, power purchased from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), the related upstream emissions for BPA and market purchases, and internal operations are estimated to be 362,976 metric tons of CO2 annually from 2003 through 2005.
iii. Any additional GHG emissions from longer term new power contract/purchases included in City Light's resource portfolio.
b. Because of the uncertainty of estimating GHG emissions associated with market purchases, City Light will track and evaluate these emissions and report back to Council in August of each year on these emissions. If the amount of emissions is significantly greater than initially estimated, then City Light will add the additional GHG emissions associated with this increase to its mitigation obligation during that year.
c. City Light will immediately pursue the possibility of acquiring third party certification of its no net greenhouse gas "footprint" and offset purchases and will report back to this committee by September 15, 2001.
d. By August, 2002, City Light will develop an internal protocol for managing and minimizing leakage of Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6) and will report to Council the estimated leakage of SF6 from City Light operations and present a plan to prevent and reduce such leaks in the future.

3. City Light will purchase offsets for GHG mitigation as close in time as the occurrence of actual emissions according to the following timeline:

a. City Light will double the quantity of CO2 offsets it purchases in 2002 from the 2001 Request for Proposals provided it can purchase that amount of credible, verifiable, sound offsets within the budget allocated for this solicitation. These offset purchases will mitigate for the first two years worth of emissions associated the Klamath Cogeneration facility which are estimated to be 495,504 metric tons.
b. In 2002, City Light will solicit proposals to come into full mitigation compliance for its 2003 annual "footprint" of emissions which is estimated to be 610,728 metric tons of CO2 per year (2.a.i and 2.a.ii). Any additional emissions identified (2.a.iii and 2.b) will be added to this estimated total. It will execute commitments for these offsets in 2003.
c. In 2003, and each subsequent year, the process outlined above will be repeated.
d. City Light may issue solicitations for offsets to cover more than one year's emissions, provided that at the end of each year beginning in 2003, it has executed commitments sufficient to offset all of that year's emissions.
e. In 2004, City Light will reassess its GHG footprint for 2006 and beyond, and revise mitigation obligations accordingly. It will ensure sufficient time to solicit offsets in 2005 so necessary offset purchases can be made in 2006 to meet the revised mitigation obligation. A similar advisory group will be assembled to help evaluate and recommend proposals for the revised mitigation obligation.

4. Budget estimates and guidelines for purchasing GHG emission offsets are as follows:

a. City Light estimates that $5 per metric ton of CO2 is sufficient to cover the cost of offset purchases in each of the next few years. This range should allow for purchasing at least some offset projects within the City or region which are expected to be at higher cost per ton yet still allow the total average to equal $5/ton. For calendar years 2003 through 2005, City Light expects to mitigate 610,728 tons per year for an annual cost of approximately $3 million per year. Expenditures for GHG emissions offsets shall be made from within Seattle City Light's existing budget until one or more of the Power Cost Adjustments passed in 2001 have been retired.
b. City Light will continue to follow the criteria established by The Climate Trust in its joint Request for Proposal with The Trust that was issued in January 2001 (Attachment A) with the following modifications:
i. City Light will aggressively solicit and give priority to local projects as long as they allow the total average cost to remain within $5/ton and preserves enough funds to meet the full mitigation obligation for that year.
ii. City Light will favor projects that deliver actual mitigation as close to the period in which the emissions occur as practicable.