Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Performance Audit Of Seattle City Light, WA State Auditor

by March 17th, 2010

Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag on March 16, 2010 published a performance audit of Seattle City Light. The nation’s 9th largest electric utility serves residential, commercial and industrial customerss in the City of Seattle and other jurisdictions.


Performance Audit of Seattle City Light, March 16, 2010, Washington State Auditor’s Office (pdf file – Adobe Acrobat Reader required).

KEY FINDINGS (page numbers refer to original document, not document viewer).

  • By injecting moisture-resistant insulation into underground power lines instead of simply replacing them, Seattle City Light could save up to $69 million per 100 miles of underground power lines targeted for replacement. (p.4)
  • Seattle City Light spends $500,000 a year unnecessarily to test power transformers already tested by manufacturers. (p.5)
  • Seattle City Light could save $6.5 million over the next five years by cutting excess power capacity in non-network areas. (p.5).
  • Under-billing for new service installations and customer-requested upgrades totaled $13 million in the period examined. But billings for customer-specific work are often applied across the ratepayer base. not to the customer who benefits. $21 million of such work was improperly billed to rate-payers a whole from 2006 to 2008. (p.6)
  • In-person payment of Seattle City Light electric bills costs $7/71 per item versus $3.24 for credit card, $0.57 for e-cash, and $0.15 for mail. There is no tracking of the volume of different types of payments, and thus no attempt to calculate how to lower transaction costs in this area. (p. 17).
  • Based on market rates, Seattle City Light is under-charging by about two-thirds for warehouse space it rents out, losing about $84,500 per year. (pp. 18-19).

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