It is easy to forget on this Government Shutdown Day how well government can sometimes work. For example, municipally-owned Seattle City Light delivers residential customers here some of the greenest and cheapest electricity in the nation.
City Light has the lowest residential rates of our nation's 25 largest cities, and it delivers this low-cost power while remaining carbon-neutral since 2005. Half of our power comes from City Light owned hydro facilities on the Skagit and Pend Oreille rivers; the rest comes from longterm contracts with the federal Bonneville Power Administration and other providers. In 2012, 89.8 percent came from hydro, 4.4 percent from nuclear (BPA), and 3.9 percent from wind. Only 0.8 percent of our power was generated by coal, and that figure only represents a percent derived from BPA's fuel mix.
Sure, our cheap, clean power is partly the result of an accident of geography. But it's also due to smart management and planning. By comparison, across the lake, Puget Sound Energy customers pay their private, for-profit utility higher rates for some of the dirtiest power in the state. About 36 percent of PSE electricity is generated by coal. Because capitalism!
So just because the Teabaggers in Congress are determined to shut down the federal government, doesn't mean that government can't work.