Seattle City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project and the recreational opportunities created by the utility in support of those operations contribute at least $500,000 annually to the economies in Skagit and Whatcom Counties.
The Skagit Hydroelectric Project consists of three dams and power houses on the Skagit River within the boundaries of the North Cascades National Park complex. The dams — Ross, Diablo and Gorge — generate clean, renewable energy that accounts for about 40 percent of the electricity City Light produces.
Some of the 87 City Light employees who work at the dams live in the utility-owned towns of Newhalem and Diablo, as well as the nearby communities of Rockport, Marblemount, and Concrete. City Light also collaborates with the National Park Service and the North Cascades Institute to provide tours of Diablo Lake, attractions along Highway 20 through the Skagit Project area and at the powerhouses..
Tours, sales, impact payments, and taxes at the dams and City Light’s Newhalem General Store, Skagit cookhouse and Skagit bunkhouse added up to about $511,000 in 2011.
“Since 1924, the Skagit Hydroelectric Project has been a reliable asset for City Light, providing low-cost electricity to the residents and businesses of greater Seattle,” City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “We’re also proud to play a significant role in support of visitors to Skagit and Whatcom Counties and the North Cascades.”
“Operating three hydroelectric dams within the boundaries of a national park complex places a premium on environmental stewardship and community relations,” Carrasco said. “That is our history and we are committed to preserving that legacy.”
City Light’s economic contributions add to the local economic benefits reported by the National Park Service, which found that tourists to the North Cascades National Park complex spent $26.4 million in communities surrounding the park. This spending supported 358 jobs in the local area.
The information on North Cascades National Park Complex is part of a peer-reviewed spending analysis of national park visitors across the country conducted by Michigan State University for the National Park Service.
To download the report visit www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/products.cfm#MGM and click on Economic Benefits to Local Communities from National Park Visitation, 2011.