The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued an order for a new, 42-year license for Seattle City Light’s largest hydroelectric dam, Boundary, on the Pend Oreille River near Metaline Falls.
“This is great news for Seattle City Light customers,” Mayor Mike McGinn said. “Boundary Dam is critical to our city’s energy resources, providing about 25 percent of all the power we use.”
“One of the things we heard during the utility’s strategic plan process last year is how much customers appreciate the clean, low-cost, renewable power that comes from our hydroelectric projects,” added Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the council’s Energy & Environment Committee. “Issuance of the license for another 42 years provides us with a good measure of our resource predictability for some time to come.”
“Our re-licensing process was unique,” said Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. “We undertook a process of close collaboration with all stakeholders to reach an agreement for the protection and enhancement of native fish and wildlife; the expansion of recreational and cultural amenities; and to ensure the water quality of the Pend Oreille River and its tributaries.”
“It’s also unique because there is a second settlement agreement that includes the removal of Mill Pond Dam as part of the decommissioning of the Pend Oreille PUD’s Sullivan Project, providing valuable new habitat for threatened native fish species, as well as new recreation opportunities,” Carrasco said. “We are pleased the Commission has acted on our license application and we will be reviewing the full content of the order.”
The decision becomes final after all settling parties have had a chance to review the documents and raise any concerns with FERC over the order that was issued Wednesday. The nearly decade-long process began for City Light in 2004 when a Notice of Intent was filed to seek a new license. The formal license application was submitted by the utility in 2009 followed in 2010 by a comprehensive settlement agreement with the settling parties.
Facts about Boundary:
- Began generating power in 1967
- Cost to build: $94 million
- 740’ long and 340’ tall
- A thin-arch structure, it is 32’ thick at the base and just 8’ thick at the crest
- Produces up to 1,040 megawatts of power
Boundary Dam is an important economic engine in the tri-county area of northeast Washington providing 50 well-paying, skilled professional jobs. It generates more than $300,000 in sales and tax revenues within Pend Oreille County and provides impact payments to the County to help support costs for emergency services, roads, schools and other benefits. The new license will bring several recreational opportunities to the north county as well:
- New recreational trails on the east side of the reservoir
- New non-motorized boat access with parking and facilities at the Metaline Falls Portage
- Upgrading Six dispersed recreation sites along the Boundary reservoir, including sanitation systems, picnic tables, fire rings and watercraft land and tie-up areas
- Improvements to Metaline Park in the town of Metaline
- New interpretation and education sites throughout the Boundary project area
The full FERC order can be found at: http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20130320-3036
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.