Environmental, North America, Regulation and Policy

Lawsuit filed regarding endangered species protection at 26-MW Electron hydro

Two conservation groups filed a lawsuit Jan. 12 against the owners of the 26-MW Electron hydro project, saying Puget Sound chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout are being killed.

The project, located at the base of Mount Rainier in Washington State, diverts water from the Puyallup River into a 10-mile-long wooden flume that empties into the Electron reservoir and travels down one of four penstocks to the powerhouse.

The lawsuit — American Whitewater, American Rivers, Inc. vs. Electron Hydro LLC, Tollhouse Energy Company, Thom A. Fischer — alleges that the owner is operating the project but not complying with the Endangered Species Act requirement to protect these species.

Relief requested includes: declaring that Electron has violated the ESA, ordering Electron to obtain immunity from take liability from the National Marine Fisheries Service and Fish and Wildlife Service, and ordering Electron to cease diverting water from the Puyallup River in the period before it obtains said take immunity.

Electron began operating in 1904, and the owner is in the midst of a multi-year modernization program designed to bring the facility back to full generating capability. Among the improvements being made are the addition of a fish screen at the intake, to enhance downstream migration.