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NHA 2013: Seattle City Light

Wed, 24 Apr 2013|

Seattle City Light Director of Power Production Mike Haynes talks about Seattle's recent CREBS allocation, relicensing of the Boundary plant, the company's emphasis on responsible environmental stewardship and its commitment to its rate payers.



I'm Marla Barnes with hydroworld.com reporting here at the 2013 National Hydropower Association Annual Conference in Washington DC. Here at the conference is Mike Haynes Director of Power Production with Seattle City Light and I asked Mike if he'd answer a few of our questions today. He gr, graciously agreed, so, Mike, we'll jump into it. Glad to have you here! Thanks Marla, it's great to be here. Great. Great. Hey Mike, you were telling me that Seattle City Light has gotten an allocations, a Creb's allocations. Tell us what that is and, and what you're using the money for. Yea, so, CREBS, stands for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, it's a program that, has been widely supported by the industry, and NHA in particular has been an advocate for that program along with the production tax credits on the private side. For the [INAUDIBLE] that CREBS, gives us access to, really low interest rate financing for. Hyrdo power improvement projects, and we applied for those several years ago and were successful in obtaining between 40 and 50 million dollars in allocations that we will be putting towards investments at our boundary facilities, actually. Two major upgrades, turbine generator replacements and transformer replacements that will. Put all that money to work. Excellent. Now speaking of Boundary, you also have great news about Boundary. Tell us about that. Yeah, so we're excited to, to report that we've just received a 42-year license for the Boundary project as a culmination of about 10 years of effort among a lot of staff at Seattle. And I think, if you talk to staff, I think what they would say is that a lot of people just got real busy as a result of this order. We're excited. We're happy about the term. We happy that Boundary has kind of set the stage for inventive processes with working collaboratively with the public utility district in Pontiac County. With all the resource agencies through settlement agreements and very collaborative and developmental process that's gonna create adaptive resource management opportunities, off channel mitigation, recreation and in addition to some improvements of the plant itself. You have a lot of work in front of you it sounds like. So, as you, as you look at that workload and you look at what your future holds for the utility. What do you all see as the, the biggest challenge that you're dealing with? Yeah, so we're, you know, are blessed with being in a good position in Seattle. But ironically I the biggest challenge I think we're facing is I'm hearing across the industry here in Washington this week is, is finding. talent. You know, talent acquisition is a, is a huge issue I think with the industry. Not only just hydro, but probably utilities in general. And and we're lookin' for, you know, trade positions, we're lookin' for engineers, we're lookin' for managers, senior managers. So it's pretty much across the board for Seattle. And so we're putting a lot of effort in that area right now and, hopefully we'll be successful. So it sounds like if you're watching this and you wanna live in the Pacific Northwest, giving Mike Haines a call, at Seattle City Light might not be a bad idea. Absolutely. [LAUGH] Mike, you know one of the things, you, you, you really are a great utility and you're committed to. And not only producing clean, renewable electricity but also taking care of the environment and being a good steward and I think you've been recognized for that in lots of different ways here at NHA, over the years. But I'd like to hear from you all, what do you see as the biggest accomplishment? that, that you speak of, at Seattle City Light. Sure. Yeah. I think probably two, the first one and foremost, recently Seattle was recognized by JD Power and associates as the number one middle sized utility across the country among business customers. It's a, it's a milestone for Seattle. First time, City Light's ever been recognized by JD Power as number one. Yeah. Yeah, we've been working very hard in this area and we think it's a testimony to the fact that we've been very engaged with our rate pairs, especially our business customers. It's not to say we don't have a lot of work to do, but we're, we're very excited about this award and, and and the recognition it brings with, with it. Well, congratulations. And you said there were two, so what's the second one? Yeah, I think from a, from a stand point of accomplishments, something that, cuts across the entire enterprise with Citylight is, last fall our city council adopted unanimously a six year strategic plan that lays out for us not only an investment strategy,. And asset management [COUGH] strategy, but also a strategy for rate pairs which gives them stability and predictability for rates for those six years. So we've got a rate path established, the council has endorsed that. They endorsed the methodologies that we put into that. Lot of hard work went into that, as you could imagine. It's not easy to predict investments that far out sometimes. And so it's. Put a lot of discipline into our planning processes, and a lot of certainty for our rate payers going forward. Well, I'm sure that is good news for the rate payers, definitely. Well MIke, thanks for taking time to speak with us today. We appreciate that. Reporting live from the National Hydropower Association Conference, I'm Marla Varnes with hydroworld.com