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Seattle Steam Co. Spring 2010


Last November the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that Seattle Steam has been selected to receive an $18.75 million federal stimulus grant toward an $80 million combined heat and power (CHP) project. It is great news that brings us even closer to fulfilling our long-term goal of building a high-efficiency CHP plant at our Post Street facility.

Adding CHP would reduce Seattle Steam's carbon emissions by another 30 percent, beyond the 50 percent achieved with our new biomass boiler. CHP also would keep rates lower and more stable. If we add CHP within the next five years, steam rates in 2030 could be up to 20 percent lower than they would if we were still using a biomass-only district heating system without the CHP component.

But here is a projection that is even more dramatic: By using a biomass- and gas-fired CHP system, our steam rates in 2030 could be 150 percent lower than if we were still using natural gas as the primary fuel source without any biomass or CHP at all.

Seattle Steam's new CHP plant would generate electricity and capture waste heat from the process, distributing both through the city's existing power and thermal energy networks. In addition to reducing emissions and ensuring stable long-term rates, the CHP project is expected to create nearly 390 construction and manufacturing jobs over the next three years plus five permanent operations and maintenance positions on site.

The CHP plant would use a gas turbine engine to generate about 50 MW of electricity (roughly equivalent to the energy used by 12,000 homes), producing 35 MW of heat as a byproduct. While conventional power plants usually throw away this waste heat, CHP captures it and would, in our case, be used to create steam for use in customers' facilities — greatly improving system efficiency.

In addition to seeking large customer commitments, Seattle Steam still needs to secure city permits and agreements with power companies for the purchase of power from the new plant. Plans for the plant are still in early development, and Seattle Steam is diligently looking at the project from every angle to try to make it possible. We're also finalizing our financing options. If everything comes together and we're able to move ahead, the plant could come online in 2013. We'll keep you posted!

There is no question Seattle Steam is on the right track. The DOE agrees. Now we need to work together to show that Seattle Steam customers want this kind of energy future for themselves and the Seattle community. Contact David Easton at (206) 658-2025, deaston@seattlesteam.com to see how you can help.


Nearly two years ago, in May 2008, Seattle Steam Company became a member of the The Climate Registry, a non-profit organization established to report greenhouse gas emissions in a common, accurate and transparent manner consistent across industry sectors and borders. When we say we're committed to reducing our carbon footprint, there will now be an independent party able to verify we're making that happen!

In fact Seattle Steam is a Charter Member of the organization's Climate Registered™ reduction program, which means we have voluntarily committed to measure, independently verify and publicly report our greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis utilizing The Climate Registry General Reporting Protocol. The protocol is based on the internationally recognized GHG measurement standards of the World Resources Institute and World Business Council on Sustainability.

With the first calendar year of the program behind us, we have just reported our 2007 and 2008 greenhouse gas emissions to the Registry for the first time. These readings will be used to benchmark our progress over the coming years as we ramp up our biomass use.

"Seattle Steam demonstrated exemplary environmental leadership by becoming one of the first to join the organization, courageously stepping forward to support The Climate Registry in its preliminary stages. We are deeply grateful for its integral support in helping to address the challenge of climate change," said Gina McCarthy, former chair of The Climate Registry.

Seattle Steam is in good company, with other Charter Members including Eastman Kodak, Flight Centre Canada, Allergan, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Ecology & Environment, Armstrong World Industries, Bentley Prince Street, Thurston County and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. All of these organizations have committed to applying for Climate Registered™ Silver, Gold or Platinum status by December 2010.

Seattle Steam is concerned about climate change and is well aware of our role as an energy provider, especially in finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint. In addition to voluntarily reporting our greenhouse gas emissions, Seattle Steam will be learning from others in the program and putting their great ideas to work for us, our customers and our community whenever possible.


Tips from the Team

In each issue of our online newsletter, Seattle Steam's Woody Woodard, manager of distribution and customer service, and Mick Reeves, chief engineer, will answer a timely operating question to help you continue to improve your efficiency. If you have other questions you'd like answered, contact David Easton at 206-658-2025, deaston@seattlesteam.com, and he'll pose them to our technical team.

Q. What's the best way to identify failing steam traps?

A. Steam traps can be inspected visually or by using infrared temperature measurements, but ultrasonic testing is best. It's the most reliable method for identifying malfunctioning traps before they fail. Visual inspections can be unreliable as the inspector must let a steam trap discharge, which changes system parameters. While infrared thermometers are useful for identifying many conditions, temperature isn't necessarily the best indicator of problems as there are numerous other variables in the system.

But ultrasonic testing, which makes ultrasonic emissions audible, allows experienced inspectors to detect a leaky trap with more than 98 percent accuracy. A helpful reminder: Buildings that use steam for space heating should inspect their traps annually; process equipment and drip main stream traps should be checked twice a year. If you need help with steam trap diagnostics and maintenance, contact David Easton.

Steam Plant

Welcome to the debut of our new quarterly e-newsletter. Our goal: To keep you informed about our company and help you optimize your use of our service.

Check out our new Web site! This newsletter includes links to our new site, which is robust with information about our company, customers and best practices. As before, the site has a virtual customer link so you can continue to access important steam use data. If you have questions, contact David Easton at deaston@seattlesteam.com.

Seattle Steam's Stan Gent wrote a guest opinion column "How Seattle can lead on climate change" for the Puget Sound Business Journal Dec. 4. Read the entire column here.

Stan Gent presented information on our biomass project Jan. 13 at the monthly luncheon meeting of the Puget Sound chapter of ASHRAE. His presentation included why biomass was selected as the fuel, along with three time-lapse video clips of project construction. To obtain a copy of the presentation, contact David Easton.


Teaming Up for Energy Efficiency. Thanks to an innovative new financing program called LEEN — Leveraging Energy Efficiency Now — 15 Seattle Steam customers are gearing up to launch energy-efficiency projects totaling $12 million in capital investment over the next 24 months. The projects will be funded in part by a $1.5 million loan from Washington State Department of Commerce and the State Energy Program, which was awarded to longtime Seattle Steam partner MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions. Seattle Steam has been working with MacDonald-Miller to analyze the energy-efficiency investment potential of its customers and to design and implement a program to leverage the state funds and finance the balance.


The LEEN program is structured to create a net zero cost to customers through energy savings, with increased cost savings achieved once the loans are paid for. Once implemented these customer projects could result in annual energy savings of 132,633 million Btu — equal to the energy needed to power 3,400 Seattle homes for a year. These improvements will also cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by 7,759 tons of carbon, and save nearly $3.1 million in annual energy costs.


There are more than 120 biomass-based community district heating plants in Denmark; half are wood-based and half are straw-based. Denmark is 23 percent of the physical size of Washington state. (Source: Danish Energy Agency.)


Seattle Steam is making plans to provide service to Virginia Mason Medical Center's new addition, slated for connection in April 2010.


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