News

Lake Chelan Project: The little hydro that can

by Kimberlee Craig | Jul 15, 2019

Lake Chelan dam & powerhouse again certified as low impact for carbon-free power and unique salmon habitat  -- and qualified as renewable by the state

WENATCHEE, WA
– Once again the Lake Chelan Hydro Project has earned recognition for sustainable operations from the Low Impact Hydropower Institute.

The designation takes into account all of the environmental work done at the 59-megawatt project at the base of Lake Chelan. That includes restoring year-round flow in the Chelan River after 80 years and creating an award-winning habitat that attracts healthy numbers of salmon and steelhead, and offers paddling and fishing for people. (At 01:21 in on the board meeting audio recording.)

“All of our environmental work at the Chelan project contributed to our successful application,” Suzanne Grassell, government affairs program manager, told Chelan PUD commissioners Monday.

The Lake Chelan project first earned Low Impact Certification in 2007. Grassell said the recertification, good through September 2022, was “a much more rigorous application process.” The institute upgraded its criteria in 2014.

There was more good news. The state now recognizes efficiency gains from turbine upgrades as renewable energy under state I-937 requirements.   

A key factor in earning Low Impact Certification was the increasing numbers of steelhead and spring Chinook returning to spawn and rear in the habitat near where the Chelan River joins the Columbia.  So was restoring year-round water flow in the Chelan River as part of the project’s a new federal license in 2006, she said.

The National Hydropower Association honored the habitat with an Outstanding Stewards of American Waters award in 2010.

“This certification from a respected third party highlights how we can generate carbon-free power and protect fish at the same time,” Grassell said.

Commissioners were delighted with the news. “The Chelan River Project is a real showcase,” added Commission President Garry Arseneault.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Approved purchase of 2.12 acres of property next to the site of the PUD’s new Service and Operations Center in Olds Station. The Nevio and Elizabeth Tontini Living Trust agreed to sell the land for $854,211. Shared Services Director Dan Frazier said potential uses for the property include access to the Wenatchee River and Apple Capital Loop Trail.(00:11 & 01:50)
  • Thanked Lorn Corner, Network Security administrator, for his personal ownership in putting security controls in place for added protection from email scammers, hackers and phishing attacks. Lorn took the initiative to increase security – without disrupting vital email services. (00:20)
  • Were updated on two meetings this week with Lake Wenatchee/Plain area community members about potential improvements for the area’s power system. PUD staff will host open houses at Beaver Valley Lodge in Plain from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Wednesday; and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the PUD Leavenworth office. (01:32)
  • Were updated on Hydropower Appreciation Day at the Seattle Sounders on July 21. Chelan PUD is joining its Foundation for Water and Energy Education partners to host the event. Hydro producers from across the Northwest have a chance to talk with soccer fans about the many benefits of our carbon-free power source. Last year’s inaugural event at the Mariners earned Outstanding Stewards of American Waters honors from the National Hydropower Association. (01:34)
  • Set a hearing for 1 p.m., Aug. 5, during the board meeting to consider designating a parcel of mostly steep hillside along Highway 97 in Douglas County surplus to PUD needs. Douglas Fire District 4 is interested in buying the parcel to build a new fire station on the small portion of buildable area in the parcel. Commissioners also will consider the purchase and sale agreement on Aug. 5, pending the hearing outcome. (00:50)   
  • Set a special meeting for 9 a.m. on Sept. 30 at Confluence Technology Center for a board workshop. (01:48)

Upcoming events:

  • Aug. 5 - Commission meeting, 10 a.m. PUD boardroom
  • Aug. 6 – National Night Out, 6 p.m., Eastmont Community Park
  • Aug. 19 - Commission meeting, 10 a.m. PUD boardroom
  • Sept. 2 – Labor Day holiday
  • Sept. 3 - Commission meeting, 10 a.m. PUD boardroom (Tuesday due to the holiday)
Outages or Emergencies

Visit our Safety and Outage Center for information, or to report an outage, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 1-877-PUD-8123.

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