Historic Snoqualmie Falls Power Plant Resumes Electricity Generation

3-Year Redevelopment Marks ‘Renewal of a Renewable Resource’ for PSE Customers

See High-Resolution Video and Photos of Project on PSE.Com


BELLEVUE, Wash. (April 23, 2013) – One of the Pacific Northwest’s oldest power plants, the historic Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Project, is once again producing electricity for local homes and businesses following a three-year, top-to-bottom overhaul.

Puget Sound Energy’s 102-year-old Plant 2 powerhouse at Snoqualmie Falls, idled in June 2010, last week restarted commercial generation of electricity. Located about a quarter mile downstream from the falls, the plant underwent near-total reconstruction under a new, 40-year federal operating license.

The energy site’s Plant 1 powerhouse – just upstream from the falls in a bedrock cavity almost 270 feet underground – also is getting a comprehensive makeover. Built in 1898-99, the elder powerhouse is scheduled to resume electric generation in July.

“The Snoqualmie Falls project was an engineering marvel when built in the late 19th century,” said Paul Wiegand, PSE senior vice president of Energy Operations. “The redevelopment of its backbone infrastructure truly marks the renewal of a renewable resource for our customers and our region.”

Once Plant 1 comes online this summer, Snoqualmie Falls’ generating capacity will be 54 megawatts, compared to about 44 MW previously. The increased output, enough to serve about 40,000 homes, is being achieved through greater plant efficiencies; no additional water will run through the project’s seven turbines.

Besides the upgrades to Snoqualmie Falls’ power-generating infrastructure, PSE is nearing completion of major improvements to Snoqualmie Falls Park, including a new visitor center that will showcase historical artifacts, documents and photos, and interpretive displays. A celebration of the energy facility’s redevelopment is planned for late summer.

Key upgrades made at Plant 2 include:

  • A new steel and concrete intake structure along the river’s edge for channeling water into a 1,215-foot-long underground tunnel that runs beneath the Salish Lodge and the upper portion of Snoqualmie Falls Park;
  • Relining of the 12-foot-diameter, underground tunnel;
  • A new Gate House that controls water flow from the tunnel to large, above-ground pipes, or “penstocks,” which carry the water more than 1,100 feet down a steep hillside to the Plant 2 powerhouse;
  • One new, 7-foot-diameter penstock and one upgraded penstock for delivering water to Plant 2;
  • A completely rebuilt powerhouse building, reflecting the original structure’s design;
  • A new, 13.7-megawatt turbine-generator, replacing the plant’s original, 1910 turbine (the plant’s 1957-vintage, 26.5-MW turbine-generator remains in use); and
  • A new bypass flow-control system, housed inside the new powerhouse, for ensuring public safety and maintaining consistent downstream flows for fish if an emergency shutdown of power generation were to occur.

You can find more information about the redevelopment effort, including fact sheets, recent photos and video, on PSE.com.

About Puget Sound Energy

Washington state’s oldest local energy utility, Puget Sound Energy serves 1.1 million electric customers and more than 760,000 natural gas customers in 10 counties. PSE meets the energy needs of its customers, in part, through cost-effective energy efficiency, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service that is safe, dependable and efficient. For more information, visit www.PSE.com, or follow PSE on Facebook and Twitter.

Media Contact

Roger Thompson, 1-888-831-7250
PSENewsroom@pse.com