Response to Seattle Resolution 31684

A RESOLUTION relating to the City Light Department; acknowledging the 2016 Integrated Resource Plan for future energy efficiency and power resources needed to provide reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible electric power to the citizens of Seattle as conforming with the public policy objectives of The City of Seattle and the requirements of the State of Washington; and approving the plan for the biennium September 2016 through August 2018.

Attention Seattle Council Members,

Seattle City Light (SCL) is limiting its strategy to a centralized, baseload model. They are not embracing the inevitable future of a decentralized, flexible, integrated, modernized energy grid. Their projections assume no disruptive technology NOR market driven adoption of independent, decentralized solar generation. The old utility model is on its way out, to maintain the status quo decades into the future is delusional.

Solar energy generation technology and storage are becoming more affordable every year; within 10 years we could see over half of all homeowners generating their own power. We only have to look to Germany who is the world leader incorporating renewable energy (includes high levels of solar) into their energy policy.  The Seattle area is positioned in a similar, if not better, weather environment than Germany.

If utilities, such as Seattle City Light, do not prepare the grid or mindset for this inevitability, it will become a crisis for the City of Seattle and the many consumers still dependent on the centralized electricity. This will necessarily bias the costs to fewer people. Rates will continue to skyrocket.

This shift has been described in the visionary book by Jeremy Rifkin, “The Third Industrial Revolution.” It is compared to the rapid evolution of the telecommunications industry — desktops to smartphones in less than 20 years.  We are seeing the shift in centralized media, news and information from TV, newspapers, and radio to online independent sharing of information from all around the world instantaneously — full realization of ‘Freedom of Speech’, by all for all. This was the second industrial revolution. The first industrial revolution was oil and the machine; automobiles. Horse and buggy shared the road with Model-T’s for a time, until it became imperative that we all have automated transportation to survive in our modern society.

The same will happen with energy. As a society, we are in the earliest stages of independent energy generation. For now it’s the early adopters; those who have the resources and the technical where-with-all, will be first.

We at Safe Utility Meters Alliance Northwest, began our advocacy because of the callous harm inflicted on us and trampling of our constitutional rights of privacy and security for our persons, houses, and effects caused by Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). The only reason that SCL must deploy AMI is to protect their revenue amidst an obsolescing energy grid model. The utility is already experiencing reduced residential demand due to conservation efforts, forcing them to look for new customers to maintain demand for baseload.

We must realize that a strategy for the future public energy grid needs to include: reliability at lowest cost and risk, and the most environmentally friendly technology. This depends on embracing an independent, decentralized, flexible, renewable energy grid. This requires that SCL look beyond the status quo, and an illusory refuge of the centralized, economies of scale model.

They admit in their own Strategic Plan “that the Electric Industry is changing and that the reality is that customers may not need traditional utility service tomorrow as they do today.” So why then, are they not taking the leadership in enabling the energy of the future?

SCL is being complacent at the public’s peril.

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