Seattle City Light Increases Power Factor Penalty

Facilities served by Seattle City Light have a new target when it comes to using power effectively.  As of January 1st, 2014, all consumers whose power factor falls below .97 will be charged $.15/kVarh.  This is an increase from the previous target of .95 and one of the highest in the nation.

Power factor is the ratio of working power to apparent power and measures how effectively power is being used.  Low power factor has a number of implications, in addition to charges from utilities.  It can reduce total system capacity, voltage and efficient use of power.

To counteract low power factor, a variety of solutions have been employed.  The most commonly known is the introduction of power factor correction capacitors.  However, it is generally encouraged to develop a power study to understand the causes and the expected benefits of solutions.