Seattle City Light’s usage stats help to go Green

Personal,Seattle by on April 25, 2007 at 10:08 pm

I was looking at my twice monthly power bill, and was simultaneously impressed and disappointed with the ‘green-oriented’ aspects of the bill. I can begin to see how something as simple as a power bill can contribute to broader conservation efforts.

I love stats, and the power bill contained two comparative stats that told me how our usage compared to last year’s usage. I thought the graph and stats were pretty cool:



So, we used 20% less electricity this year. Great. I think.

I love that this is on the first page of the bill, but they could do so much more. This would be a great place to tell me:

  • Is my improvement better or worse than that of other customers (an unseasonably warm winter could have improved everyone’s bill)
  • How does my consumption compare to other customers? What quartile am I in? How about average energy usage per sq ft? Even better, tell me how I compare to the other people on my block.
  • Usage by day? Are we particularly inefficient on some days? A daily graph would be pretty cool, although I’m pretty sure they don’t have the data to support this.

Not everyone is a numbers geek like me nor are they similarly competitive. But, this has actually had an impact on our energy usage, so I imagine it would do the same for others.

They also have this cool renewable energy program: GreenUp. You get to buy a guilt free energy consuming lifestyle for a mere $12 a month. For this low monthly charge Seattle City Light commits to give you energy from renewable sources instead of stinky coal factories. So, your power can at least feel superior to other people’s power as it travels down the lines to your house.

Although I’m happily spending $12 a month, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m just paying Seattle City Light extra money for the privilege of feeling better about my energy footprint (aka, does the money go to renewable sources or to a public utility slush fund).

Does anyone know if other utilities have similar programs?


  1. Peter Clarke — April 27, 2007 @ 9:55 am

    I work for Seattle City Light and came across your Blog. Thought I might be able to help you in your questions about your energy consumption vs. other City Light customers. The Home Resource Profile is the on-line conservation tool you need. Available at You’ll need your electric or water account number to personalize it. BTW it does do a comparison to the typical SCL consumption of a similarly set up house (i.e. electric heat and hot water, gas heat with electric hot water, etc.). It also makes recommendations based on your actual bill. It does not get to the level of detail you describe, per square foot or compared to people on your block.

    Second, the level of detail you are suggesting (daily consumption patterns) would be voluminous to produce for a bill. However, with a system such as Automated Meter Reading (AMR) individuals can track their own daily energy usage and monitor use patterns according to typical high and low use times (e.g. morning and evening – high; middle of the night and middle of the day, likely low) – it’s a system that Seattle City Light is looking at and currently has two pilot projects, one commercial and one residential.

    Third, yes, the money paid for the GreenUp program actually contributes to Seattle City Light’s purchase and/or development of new renewable energy sources, such as our current purchase from Stateline Wind Farm in Walla Walla. It is “real.”
    All of the other local utilities (Tacoma Power, Snohomish PUD and Puget Sound Energy) offer similar “green” energy programs. More information is available on their Websites – they are offering the same promotional incentive SCL is – sign up for GreenUp now and receive a bag of coffee and a chocolate bar – customers can go to for more information.

    If you have any additional information, please feel to contact me at

  2. davenaff — April 28, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

    Peter, thanks for pointing this out. The conservation survey is awesome. I was surprised at how much of our energy consumption was due to our water heater.

    The AMR system sounds interesting. A daily usage report could easily just be a small line graph on the bill and wouldn’t take too much space. I’m eager to learn more.

    I’m going to post a follow-up to the post with some of my findings from the survey.


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