Seattle passes final hurdle for FERC relicense of 1,003-MW Boundary hydro project

Seattle announced it overcame the final hurdle to relicensing the 1,003.253-MW Boundary hydroelectric project with the deadline for appeals of its new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hydropower license.

FERC issued an order March 20 relicensing the Boundary project on Washington’s Pend Oreille River. In operation since 1967, Boundary Dam (No. 2144) provides 25 percent of the power used by the city of Seattle.

“This is a significant milestone that will ensure City Light customers continue to benefit from clean hydroelectricity and low-cost power for decades to come,” Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said Aug. 21.

City Light noted the deadline to appeal the FERC relicensing passed Aug. 19, formally ending the relicensing process.

“We are glad to have earned the trust of regulators and the many parties involved, and remain committed to being responsible stewards of this great natural resource,” City Light General Manager Jorge Carrasco said. “Final approval of the 42-year license is a critical economic benefit to City Light’s customers and to Pend Oreille PUD customers whose primary source of electricity is low-cost Boundary power.”

In a related order carrying out part of a Boundary project relicensing agreement, FERC also accepted the surrender of the license for an upstream water storage project, Sullivan Creek (No. 2225). Seattle and Sullivan Creek’s licensee, Pend Oreille County Public Utility District, are to remove that project’s Mill Pond Dam and perform other work to improve aquatic habitat in Sullivan Creek and Sullivan Lake.

Seattle filed in 2009 to relicense Boundary. In March 2010, Seattle and Pend Oreille PUD filed a settlement agreement asking to consolidate the relicense proceeding with the surrender of Sullivan Creek, which is operated by the PUD as a storage project for downstream generation under the Pacific Northwest Coordination Agreement.

The Boundary settlement agreement includes obligations for evaluating and providing fish passage for resident salmon, including fish entrainment, improving aquatic habitat, stocking fish for recreational purposes, conserving native fish, groundwater well decommissioning, acquiring and managing land for wildlife, and other measures for recreation and cultural resource enhancement and protection. Seattle also plans to upgrade turbine runners, rewind generators, and replace step-up transformers of two units, increasing generation and possibly installed capacity.

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