CONCRETE – U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Everett) visited Puget Sound Energy’s Baker RIver Hydroelectric Project to hear utility staffers promote the economic and environmental benefits the energy facility brings to the region.
PSE is reducing the environmental impact of its two Baker dams by meeting conditions of its new license. These include a new fish hatchery and an upstream “trap-and-haul” facility for migrating salmon.
While the system that helps bring salmon upstream to Baker Lake is new this year, PSE’s downstream fish transport, completed in 2008, has shown results. More than 520,000 juvenile salmon were collected in 2010 for downstream migration, compared to a 24-year average of 176,000.
“We are fortunate to demonstrate to Congressman Larsen, first hand, the multiple benefits that the Baker project is bringing to the community,” said Ed Schild, director of hydroelectric resources for PSE.
Larsen commented on the benefits to fish but also to the economy. The new fish transport systems created up to 40 temporary construction jobs.
“The investments being made by Puget Sound Energy into fish migration on the Baker River are supporting good jobs in the community, while providing an economic boost to local businesses as visitors come to tour the facilities and to fish in the newly opened fishery,” Larsen said.
“Baker River salmon returns have been significantly improved in the last two decades. I commend Puget Sound Energy for their efforts to resotre our salmon populations.”
Future plans for PSE at its Baker River operation include construction of another floating surface collector for downstream transport in the Lake Shannon reservoir and construction of a second Lower Baker Dam powerhouse.
PSE’s largest hydropower facility, the Baker River project, has two dams each with its own powerhouse. Lower Baker Dam, completed in 1925, is a 285-foot-high structure with 79 megawatts of power-generating capacity. The 312-foot-high Upper Baker Dam, completed in 1959, has a generating capacity of 91 megawatts. Power output from the facility can meet the peak needs of 130,000 customers.