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Return to Previous PageSnoqualmie Falls hydro plant gets into hall of fame

By Dan Catchpole
SnoValley Star

Snoqualmie Valley has been the home of a movie star, professional athletes and business leaders. The Valley is now also home to a new hall-of-famer.

The inductee never sought out fame. It only did its job, year after year.

That hard work and dedication was recognized the last week of July, when Snoqualmie Falls Plant 2 was inducted into the Hydro Hall of Fame at the annual Hydrovision International Conference in Charlotte, N.C. The hall is run by PennWell, which publishes two hydroelectric trade journals.

The plant’s older sibling, Plant 1, was inducted into the hall in 1998, its centennial year.

Built in 1910, Plant 2 sits perched over the Snoqualmie River about a quarter-mile downstream from the falls. The 32-megawatt plant is owned and operated by Puget Sound Energy and still produces energy.

"It’s served the region well, and it’s still serving the region,” PSE spokesman Roger Thompson said. "For us, getting this award, it’s an honor.”

But PSE officials aren’t letting the honor go to their heads.

"For us, Plant 2 is a very humble, very modest, hard-working facility,” Thompson said.

Ever humble, the power plant itself did not respond when asked about its induction.

The plant is getting upgrades as part of $240 million of major renovations and improvements to both power plants and the public park adjacent to Snoqualmie Falls. The entire project is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Work has already begun on the park and Plant 1. PSE is replacing Plant 1’s power turbines, which sit in a cavern carved into bedrock 260 feet beneath the upper river.

Plant 2 is receiving new turbines as well, and pipes for moving water from the river in and out of the plant. The improved pipes, called penstocks, will allow for better control of water flow and are more fish friendly, according to Thompson.

The plant will be idle during the work, but customers will not be affected, he said. PSE will offset the lost electricity production from a variety of sources, including other PSE plants and power purchased off the market.

The finished work is expected to boost energy production by 10 megawatts, about a 20 percent increase, without requiring any increase in water flow, Thompson said.

Hydropower accounts for more than 40 percent of electricity provided by PSE to its customers. In addition to its Snoqualmie Falls facility, PSE owns and operates the Baker River Hydroelectric Project in Washington’s North Cascades and the Electron Hydroelectric Project on the Puyallup River.

Twenty-seven hydroelectric projects in the U.S. and Canada have been inducted into the Hydro Hall of Fame since it began in 1995.

Dan Catchpole: 392-6434, ext. 246, or editor@snovalleystar.com. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.

SnoValley Star
Issaquah, WA
August 19, 2010

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