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PUD'S NEW SUNSET DESIGN REQUIRES NO DAM OR BARRIERS ON UPPER SKYKOMISH RIVER
May 08, 2014
Sunset Falls on south fork of Skykomish River at Index, WA where the powerhouse portion of an older, now defunct hydro dam project was to have been located. The new design for the hydro project does not require a dam on the river. CLICK TO ENLARGE
(EVERETT, WA) -- After a series of studies and design analysis, the Snohomish County PUD has announced it has developed a highly innovative plan for a proposed hydropower project southeast of Index.
This project requires no dam, weir or river barriers, which reduces construction costs by $10 million and could power up to 22,500 homes at maximum output, according to information supplied by the PUD.
“We have proven success delivering low-impact hydropower projects that provide multiple benefits to our customers,” said Kim Moore, PUD Assistant General Manager of Water, Generation & Corporate Services. “This project could be a valuable addition to our portfolio. Among the low-impact projects we identified in the past seven years, it’s the lowest cost power source.”
The purpose of diverse, locally owned power sources, such as the Sunset Fish Passage & Energy Project, is to help make the PUD and its customers more self-sufficient, resilient and energy secure.
As part of the project the PUD would make improvements to an aging, state-owned trap-and-haul facility that trucks salmon upstream above three impassible waterfalls to 90 miles of spawning habitat. The utility also is studying potential road and recreation improvements.
UPDATED "NO DAM" DESIGN MAKES MAJOR CHANGES
The PUD’s updated design modifies the water intake area and fish screens to cut excavation needs in half. It also reduces construction time by an estimated six months. In addition, more efficient turbines at a proposed powerhouse would increase annual energy production.
The PUD says the "no-dam design" is made possible due to the unique geography of the South Fork of the Skykomish River.
Upstream from Sunset Falls, the river turns sharply – a complete 180 degrees – creating a deep pool of water, which can accommodate an underwater intake structure.
The water for the project would flow from the upstream intake to an underground tunnel through solid bedrock a half-mile to the PUD powerhouse. Sufficient water would remain in the river for fish, aesthetics and recreation.
In addition to the Sunset Project, the PUD is assessing two other local hydropower projects above Snoqualmie Falls near North Bend.
"These projects are the lowest cost renewable energy sources available locally, better in price than wind, solar, tidal and biomass/biogas," said the PUD in a statement.
Starting this month the PUD will survey customers about the Sunset Fish Passage & Energy Project. The survey will cover public access, recreation, aesthetics and other background information. Vi
You can visit www.snopud.com/sunset in May to take the survey. The utility encourages customers to participate.
The PUD says there are key benefits to users of its hydropower projects. They are non-polluting, local renewable sources with no heat or noxious gas releases and their generating output coincides with the times of the year when energy is needed the most.
Small hydropower projects typically are sited at or above waterfalls or impassible barriers to minimize fish issues.
For decades, the bulk of the PUD’s energy has come from Pacific Northwest hydropower ad in the process has garnered numerous awards for its hydropower operations, including from the Puget Sound Regional Council, Renewable Energy World and the American Society of Civil Engineers.