Puget Sound Energy Salmon-Protection Efforts Receive National Recognition for Second Time This Year

PSE Earns National Hydropower Association’s Top Environmental Award

BELLEVUE, Wash., May 12, 2009 - Puget Sound Energy yesterday (Monday, May 11) received the hydropower industry’s highest environmental award for an innovative system the utility built to aide juvenile-salmon migration around tall hydroelectric dams.

In a Capitol Hill ceremony in Washington, D.C., the National Hydropower Association bestowed one of its four 2009 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Awards on PSE. Specifically, the award recognizes PSE’s development of a new, widely heralded “floating surface collector” at the utility’s Baker River Hydroelectric Project in northwest Washington.

“This award serves to validate the incredible effort so many dedicated people, inside and outside our company, invested to build a state-of-the-art fish-migration system on the Baker River,” said Ed Schild, director of hydroelectric resources for PSE. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

Schild, joined by John Jensen, PSE’s Baker River operations manager, and Mark Killgore, project implementation manager, accepted the award for PSE during yesterday’s ceremony.

A National Hydropower Association news release said PSE and the three other 2009 award recipients “all have developed groundbreaking, collaborative projects that expand the U.S. hydropower industry's work in providing clean, affordable, domestic energy.”

PSE’s 1,000-ton fish collector floats above the Baker Lake reservoir’s 280-foot-deep bottom. Together with an updated shore-to-shore, surface-to-bottom guide-net system, it is designed to attract, guide and safely capture young salmon for downstream transport around PSE’s two Baker River hydroelectric dams.

In its first year of operation in 2008, the $50 million apparatus induced the highest outmigration rate on record for juvenile Baker River sockeye. An estimated 90 percent to 95 percent of the watershed’s sea-bound sockeye were safely guided into the collector for water-truck transport around PSE’s two North Cascades dams. And just last week, the new collector twice smashed the old record for the number of young salmon gathered in a single day. On Saturday, the facility collected 60,629 juvenile sockeye, followed by 58,275 on Sunday. The old one-day record, set in 2006 by PSE’s first-generation floating surface collector, was 28,294.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has called PSE’s new system a model for other high-reservoir dam operators. Representatives from some two dozen domestic and foreign utilities already have toured PSE’s Baker River operation, with several of those utilities either exploring or actively pursuing fish-migration systems based on PSE’s so-called “gulper.”

The new floating surface collector is a one-of-a-kind, 130-foot-by-60-foot barge equipped with a series of submerged screens, water pumps, fish-holding chambers, a fish-evaluation station, equipment-control rooms, and a fish-loading facility. The guide nets, extending from each side of the collector to the opposing lake shores and from the lake’s surface to its bottom, form an impassible netting funnel to lead small migrating fish to the facility. PSE completed the collector in March 2008. The 14-month construction period was preceded by several years of collaborative discussions with government resource agencies, Indian tribes and other outside stakeholders.

Government fisheries agencies expect PSE’s new floating surface collector, together with more than $100 million in other PSE fish-enhancement projects on which they’re collaborating, to quadruple the Baker River’s already rebounding sockeye numbers. These projects include construction of a new Baker River fish hatchery, a new trap-and-haul facility for migrating adult sockeye, improved spawning beaches, and a new floating surface collector on Lake Shannon, behind Lower Baker Dam.

Earlier this year, Engineering News-Record, one of the country’s top construction journals, named PSE biologist Cary Feldmann as one of the magazine’s “Top 25 Newsmakers of 2008” for his leadership role in the design and development of the floating surface collector. Other key members of the PSE team included project manager Brian Doughty, project engineer Don Thompson, fish biologist Nick Verretto, and senior engineers Matt Macartney and Ryan Murphy.

URS Washington Division served as the project’s design-engineering company and the constructor was Natt McDougall Company.


Roger Thompson, 1-888-831-7250

About Puget Sound Energy

Washington state’s oldest and largest energy utility, with a 6,000-square-mile service area stretching across 11 counties, Puget Sound Energy serves more than 1 million electric customers and nearly 750,000 natural gas customers. PSE, a subsidiary of Puget Energy, meets the energy needs of its growing customer base primarily in Western Washington through incremental, cost-effective energy conservation, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in the energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service to deliver energy that is safe, reliable, reasonably priced, and environmentally responsible. For more information, visit PSE.com.