The press release came in on Friday afternoon, looking somewhat mundane and announcing what seemed like an innocuous news conference for Monday morning. The title: "Mayor, Business Leaders to Endorse Strategic Plan for City Light."
By Sunday, however, things were becoming clear. Sure, it was still a little mundane -almost everything involving public utility strategic plans carry a whiff of the mundane, after all - but news that Mayor McGinn would propose a
28-percent 31-percent rate hike for City Light over six years, being reported by the Seattle Times and other outlets, isn't exactly something to completely ignore, either.
The Times, in fact, had gone as far as to obtain "Talking Points" (their capitalization and quotation marks, not mine) from those scheduled to speak at the news conference, meaning that on Sunday evening the paper was able to report what McGinn, et al. (most prominently including City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco) would say a good 17 hours before the news conference even started.
The predictability of the rate hikes is supposed to be the selling point. The Times and others outlets all say McGinn will stress that the plan - which calls for 4.7-percent rate hikes each year for the next six years - offers valuable stability ... as in, customers will be thankful to know exactly what's coming. This, in the city's theory, will allow customers to better prepare for the ouchy.
The rate hike would need City Council approval, and if it gets it, would begin next year.
Q13 Fox reports that, if approved, the plan will mean an average rate increase for homes of about $35 a year. The Times goes further, noting that hotels stand to pay an extra $109,000 a year, and big-ass customers like steel mills will be shelling out $632,000 more per year.
Nothing to see here.
But, let's be honest: it's much more fun when papers are literally looking into the future.
From the Times:
The six-year strategic plan was developed through a customer committee that met 32 times. Talking points for the panel's Co-Chairmen Eugene Wasserman and Stan Price note that the process was "incredibly transparent."
So transparent, in fact, that we know what's going to happen before it happens.
More from the Times:
It's "not easy to recommend six years of rate increases," according to Wasserman and Price, "but we have a better understanding of what is driving rates and what needs to be done to protect and improve the incredible electrical system the city is blessed to have."
One can only assume it becomes a lot easier to recommend six years of rate increases when everyone already knows that's what you're going to say.