Tower Photo - Source: U.S. Department of Energy

Creating our energy future depends on converting transportation and other industries to clean electric power. This transition requires a stronger, smarter electrical grid to handle the increased demand when more and more people rely on electric power to live, work, and play.

We are upgrading and modernizing our grid to support growing electricity use and make our services more resilient, reliable, and affordable. City Light's Grid Modernization Plan and Roadmap outlines the improvements we are making. We prioritize grid modernization work in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), immigrants, refugees, people with low incomes, youth, and English language learner communities to combat the disproportionate environmental, health, and economic harms these communities experience from fossil fuel use and the resulting climate change and pollution.

What is the "electrical grid"?

The electrical grid is the network that delivers electricity from the place where it is generated, such as a hydroelectric dam, to the place where it is consumed, such as a wall outlet in your home. Electrical grids usually consist of power stations, substations, power transmission lines, and power distribution lines.

Power Transmission and Distribution graphic

  1. Power is generated from the dam and powerhouse
  2. Substation transformer steps up the voltage for transmission
  3. Transmission lines carry electricity long distances
  4. Neighborhood substation transformer reduces voltage
  5. Distribution lines carry electricity to customers
  6. Transformers on poles step down electricity
  7. Service lines deliver power from the pole to the home or business

How does a strong, resilient grid affect me?

Grid modernization is about making the grid ready for change: upgrading to meet increasing electricity use, improving security and resiliency from unpredictable impacts such as climate change, severe weather, cyber-attacks, and natural disasters, and providing a platform for additional innovation in the energy economy.

Electrification Enablement

As our customers use more electric building technologies and electric vehicles, and demand for electricity increases, a more flexible and resilient grid ensures power is available when needed and outages are minimized.

At home and at work, a secure, reliable grid manages fluctuations in demand so we can all heat and cool our spaces, turn the lights on, charge up our electric vehicles, or play electric guitar. Modernization plans for growth, new uses, and innovative technologies while also delivering for the essential services we all need such as hospitals, water treatment plants, or electric buses and trains for transit.

Enhanced Outage Response

New technology investments allow for automated or remote restoration during outages in areas prone to weather-related grid damage. For example, if a tree fell on a power line, automated switches would detect the outage, isolate the damage, and reroute the power to keep customers in service, while automatically informing the control center about the location of the damaged line. These investments also allow dispatchers to operate equipment remotely, increasing crew safety and efficiency.

Increased Grid Awareness & Responsiveness

Using modern, smart meters, we are able to measure how much electricity a customer uses and produces in real time with greater accuracy. Having your energy consumption data at your fingertips means no surprises on your monthly bill, giving you more choice and control over your energy costs. This technology also strengthens grid reliability by giving us more data to better manage, identify, and respond to outages. The responsive grid of the future will also support flexible rate design and communication with customers through their smart devices.

Optimized Distributed Energy Resources

Energy efficiency, resources such as solar and energy storage, and flexibility through demand response systems will strengthen and change how our grid operates. The grid is shapeshifting beyond transmission lines and power poles, showing up as home solar panels on our roofs, and microgrid systems at our community centers. "Distributed energy resources" such energy storage and flexible systems that can conserve and shift consumption of electricity if needed to make the grid more resilient and efficient.


Microgrids provide backup power storage during emergency events, such as windstorms or unplanned power outages. The microgrid generates power that can be provided to a specific building or area; an "island" separate from the main grid when there is an outage.

Learn more about the recent microgrid we built at the Miller Community Center.

Solar Power

When more solar-generated electricity is produced through a home solar panel than a customer can use, it can be distributed back to the grid through net-metering programs for others to benefit from. City Light offers assistance to residential and business customers to interconnect their solar electric systems to the grid.

Energy Storage

Customer-owned battery systems enable customers to store surplus energy created by their solar systems for later use. Battery systems can also be charged by utility-provided power to keep the charge-levels high—either to shift electricity consumption to times of lower system load or to provide backup power in the event of an outage.

City Light

Dawn Lindell, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Ave, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34023, Seattle, WA, 98124-4023
Phone: (206) 684-3000

Seattle City Light was created by the citizens of Seattle in 1902 to provide affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible electric power to the City of Seattle and neighboring suburbs.