Baker River Hydroelectric Project

2017 project updates

  • PSE is planning to upgrade the early-warning alert system for the Baker River Hydroelectric Project. The new sirens are expected to be installed and functional by  winter 2017-18.
  • PSE held an open house in Concrete on March 15 to share information about the proposed siren upgrade.

Baker River Dam early-warning alert system 

Puget Sound Energy is planning to upgrade the early-warning alert system for the Baker River Hydroelectric Project. The upgrade will increase the sound coverage area, taking the system from three sirens to eight.

Explore the interactive map below to see the proposed locations for the new sirens.


Download the audio files linked below to hear the new siren messages:

The reasons for the new system are two-fold. In the unlikely event of a dam failure, this new alert system will provide early-warning and immediate mass notification to the downstream communities of Van Horn, Concrete, Grassmere, Cape Horn and Birdsview. 

The new system will also include an increased sound coverage area and a distinctly unique siren tone to remove the potential for confusion between the dam failure sirens and any other warning sirens, such as the local fire station alarms.

Siren testing

As part of PSE's Dam Safety Program and Emergency Action Plan, PSE installed early-warning sirens to be activated in the worst-case, unlikely event that a dam failure is developing or has occurred.  The sirens are tested once a month.  During the siren test, the sirens sound for 30 seconds.

The siren test occurs on the 2nd Monday of every month at 6 p.m. If the sirens sound at any other time, without prior notice to the local media, it is not a test.  Residents are to evacuate and head for higher ground, in the north and south direction, away from Skagit River. In an actual emergency, the sirens will continue to sound until deactivated. Further instructions would be communicated through the local media.

Baker River hydroelectric project   

PSE's largest hydropower facility is the Baker River Hydroelectric Project, located on a tributary of the Skagit River in northwest Washington. The 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 115 megawatts of power-generating capacity. The 312-foot-high Upper Baker Dam, completed in 1959, has a generating capacity of 100 megawatts. The power project also contains extensive salmon-enhancement systems, including a new fish hatchery and new, innovative facilities for moving migrating fish both upstream and downstream around PSE's two dams.

The project provides numerous amenities for public recreation and flood control for communities in the Skagit River Valley. PSE was awarded a 50-year federal operating license for the project in October 2008.