Pend Oreille County, Seattle City Light Reach 10-Year Agreement

Seattle City Light’s Boundary Hydroelectric Project in Pend Oreille County is a vital source of hydroelectricity, powering the utility’s service area for more than 50 years. As a steward of the resources the utility relies on in this northeastern Washington county, City Light strives to maintain a positive relationship with local residents, governing entities and tribes. This fall, City Light continued this partnership as the utility and Pend Oreille County reached a 10-year agreement regarding the impact fees associated with the Boundary Hydroelectric Project. The Seattle City Council approved the ordinance on Sept. 25, allowing City Light to move forward with these payments. 

Boundary Hydroelectric Project from its Vista House
Boundary Hydroelectric Project from its Vista House

This agreement, which lasts from 2020 to 2029, provides payment to Pend Oreille County and the school districts and towns adjacent to the project. This includes the Selkirk, Cusick and Newport School Districts and the towns of Metaline, Metaline Falls and Ione. Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 35.21.425 requires any city that constructs a hydroelectric generating project after March 17, 1955, in a county other than the county in which such utility is located, to enter into an agreement with that county to provide “impact fees,” which are funds for public peace, health, safety, welfare and added road maintenance in the operating county. 

Since Boundary Hydroelectric Project opened in 1967, more than a decade after the RCW was established, City Light has provided these payments to Pend Oreille County to ease the hydroelectric project’s financial impact. City Light Chief Operating Officer Mike Haynes describes the agreement as part of the utility’s commitment to this community.   

“We are so proud and thankful to be a part of such a vibrant community as Pend Oreille County,” Mike said. “Our Boundary Hydroelectric Project employees call this region home and we want to make sure that they, along with the rest of the residents, know that City Light cares for this community. City Light is excited to continue this partnership and support this region for decades to come.”  

Per the utility’s Boundary Relicensing Agreement, City Light has worked with state, local and federal entities on large-scale capital projects throughout Pend Oreille County, including the construction of Boundary Forebay Recreational Area, which opened last summer.   

To learn about the storied history of the Boundary Hydroelectric Project, visit City Light’s #Boundary50 digital exhibit.