Spotlight on a Difference Maker -- Uzma Siddiqi

Release Date: 
December 9, 2021 - 08:45

Welcome to Spotlight on a Difference Maker, where we dedicate space to your industry colleagues to reflect on past, current and future states of lighting design, controls and systems integrations, beneficial electrification, and all the various professions that touch and intersect those industries.

Today we introduce you to Uzma Siddiqi, PE, Senior Manager of Grid Modernization at Seattle City Light.


“As an engineer,” says Uzma, “I thrive on solving problems.” Which is a great trait to have when one starts their career during a recession, like Uzma did. Although she had a newly-awarded Master’s degree in Electric Power Systems, electric utilities just weren’t hiring. So—and this will sound familiar to many—she started where she could: designing lighting, grounding, and power drawings for small plants at a petrochemical company. After a while, she moved across the country to Seattle, and that experience got her in the door at Snohomish PUD. In 2003, after spending some years raising a family, she was the successful candidate for a customer engineering position at Seattle City Light. She’s been with the utility ever since. For the past 5+ years, though, she has centered herself in the world of technology innovation and grid modernization.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the [utility] business, and a great opportunity to make a difference,” Uzma said when thinking about what the near and long-view future looks like for utilities. “As we adjust our personal and community carbon footprints, there will be lots of changes in what and how people use energy and electricity, with clean, renewable electricity currently looking like the best source of energy.”

In those changes, Uzma sees challenges, but not anything insurmountable—which is maybe why she has been chosen as a leader for the utility in this area. “There will be technical challenges [in future changes], of course,” she said. “For example, as customers, how fast will we be able to move from cars powered by internal combustion engines to electric vehicles? As utilities, how fast will we adapt to integrate future flexible loads? Will our decisions be based on values, economics, or regulatory requirements?” She doesn’t see these decisions being made in a vacuum, and values stakeholder input, collaboration, and equitable access to these decarbonization solutions. “As a community we’ll need to consider multiple approaches to reach our goals. I have confidence that we will be able to address the challenges, although it may feel bumpy at times.”

Uzma has co-authored two papers published by the IEEE and can be seen on the Lighting Design Lab’s recording of “Get To Know City Light’s Miller Community Center Microgrid” webinar from May 27, 2021