Congressman Rick Larsen Tours PSE’s Baker River Hydropower Facility

BELLEVUE, Wash. (Aug. 4, 2010) – U.S. Representative Rick Larsen from Washington’s 2nd Congressional District Tuesday visited Puget Sound Energy’s Baker River Hydroelectric Project in Concrete, Wash., to learn more about the economic and environmental benefits the energy facility brings to the region.

Cary Feldmann and Rick Larsen at the Baker River Hydro Facility
Cary Feldmann walks Congressman Rick Larsen
(pictured on left) through the advanced upstream
trap-and-haul facility for migrating salmon, PSE’s
latest investment at the Baker River Hydro Facility.

PSE’s largest hydropower facility, the Baker River project has two dams, each with its own powerhouse. The dams' reservoirs, Baker Lake and Lake Shannon, are fed by runoff from the flanks of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. Lower Baker Dam, completed in 1925, is a 285-foot-high concrete structure with 79 megawatts of power-generating capacity. The 312-foot-high Upper Baker Dam, completed in 1959, has a generating capacity of 91 megawatts. Power output from the facility can meet the peak needs of 130,000 customers.

Following extensive consultation with community stakeholders, PSE received a 50-year Baker River operating license in October 2008 from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. PSE has been working since then to implement the license provisions, including the recent opening of a new fish hatchery and an advanced upstream trap-and-haul facility for migrating salmon, renewing PSE’s fish-enhancement efforts.

The investments have been met with great success. For instance, PSE’s floating surface collector, completed in 2008 to aid downstream transport of juvenile salmon around the utility’s two Baker River dams, has already set new records: more than 520,000 juvenile salmon were collected in 2010 for downstream migration, compared to a 24-year average of 176,000.

Cary Feldman and Rick Larsen at the Baker River Hydro Facility
Yesterday’s tour observed about thirty fish making
their way through the trap-and-haul facility.

“We are fortunate to demonstrate to Congressman Larsen, first-hand, the multiple benefits that the Baker project is bringing to the community,” said Ed Schild, director of hydroelectric resources for PSE. “Our Baker operations are producing clean energy, employing 40 full-time employees, boosting fish populations and welcoming thousands of recreational visitors each year.”

PSE’s recent investments in the Baker River facility also produced as many as 40 temporary construction jobs.

“The investments being made by Puget Sound Energy into fish migration on the Baker River are supporting good jobs in the community, while providing an economic boost to local businesses as visitors come to tour the facilities and to fish in the newly opened fishery,” said Rep. Larsen. “Baker River salmon returns have been significantly improved in the last two decades. I commend Puget Sound Energy for their efforts to restore our salmon populations.”

Future plans for PSE at its Baker River operation include construction of another floating surface collector in the Lake Shannon reservoir behind Lower Baker Dam and construction of a second Lower Baker Dam powerhouse.

About Puget Sound Energy

Washington state’s oldest local energy utility, Puget Sound Energy serves more than 1 million electric customers and nearly 750,000 natural gas customers in 11 counties. A subsidiary of Puget Energy, PSE meets the energy needs of its growing customer base through incremental, cost-effective energy efficiency, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in the energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service and delivering energy that is safe, reliable, reasonably priced, and environmentally responsible.

Media Contact

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