Snohomish Opens New Small Hydro Project

Snohomish PUD commissioners press the button to start the generator and bring the facility on line

This past weekend, the Snohomish County Public Utility District opened the first new hydroelectric project in Washington state in nearly 20 years. The Youngs Creek facility, south of Sultan, has a generating capacity of 7.5 megawatts--enough to power about 2,000 homes.

"We're committed to operating this facility and other hydropower projects in a way that protects our natural environment while serving the community's need for high quality water and energy," says PUD Board of Commissioners President Dave Aldrich.

The project gives the PUD greater flexibility since it's a locally generated, reliable resource that will provide energy at times of the year when it's needed the most. It's also competitively priced compared to other green energy sources, which aligns with the Council's planning recommendations.

The Council's most recent power plan's resource strategy encourages developing "...other renewable alternatives that may be available at the local, small-scale level and are cost-effective now."

Located above a waterfall, the project doesn't affect migrating fish like salmon, and because it's close to load, it reduces the need for hundreds of miles of new transmission line, minimizing line losses and effects on the environment.

In developing the project, Snohomish worked closely with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, other state and federal agencies, and local tribes to make sure river flows and fish were protected.