By Sharon Pian Chan
Seattle Times staff reporter
While the City Council considers steep increases for water and garbage rates, Seattle customers will not see a change to their electric rates in 2009.
Mayor Greg Nickels announced Friday that rates at Seattle City Light, about 6 cents per kilowatt hour for residential customers, will stay the same next year due to rainfall, wholesale energy prices and inflation. "Any number of financial factors come into play," said Scott Thomsen, spokesman for the public utility. "We've enjoyed pretty good water this year."
The average monthly bill for a single-family home is currently $47.58. The council reduced rates in 2007 and 2008 by an average of 8.4 percent. During the 2000 and 2001 energy crisis, rates soared 58 percent.
Councilmember Bruce Harrell called the mayor's announcement, which does not require council approval, the right step. "We're doing a good job, I think, in terms of keeping our costs lower" and prioritizing conservation, said Harrell, who chairs the committee that oversees City Light.
The announcement comes as council members question increases proposed for Seattle Public Utilities' water and garbage-collection customers. The utility recommended a 29 percent increase for garbage collection to $29.65 for a single-family home with a 32-gallon garbage can and 96-gallon yard-waste bin. The garbage rates are a result of new collection contracts the council approved earlier this year, which will add weekly food-waste collection and replace trucks with natural-gas-burning vehicles.
Water rates would increase 18 percent to $29.05 per month for the average single-family home to pay for capital improvements to the system.