About the Snoqualmie Falls Project
Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Project is located on the Snoqualmie River in Snoqualmie, Washington. At the start of 2010, the Snoqualmie Falls Project consisted of a diversion dam located 150 feet upstream from Snoqualmie Falls and two powerhouses (Plants 1 and 2) with a total generating capacity of 44.4 megawatts. Snoqualmie Falls Plant 1 was originally built in 1898 and includes the world's first completely underground powerhouse in a cavern 270 feet below Snoqualmie Falls. Snoqualmie Falls Plant 2, about a quarter-mile downstream from Plant 1, was built in 1910 and expanded in 1957.
Puget Sound Energy is redeveloping the Snoqualmie Falls Project and making extensive improvements to both Plant 1 and Plant 2. Redevelopment work began in early 2010 and will continue into 2014. PSE is upgrading the turbine generators in both plants as well as the buildings housing the generating and transmission equipment. Neither plant is generating electricity during the upgrade work, and many of the old structures are being removed to make way for their replacements.
Puget Sound Energy operates Snoqualmie Falls Park on its land overlooking the falls. The park will remain open while the power plants are being redeveloped. Parts of the park are temporarily closed and off-limits during construction to ensure safety, but the public can still enjoy spectacular views of Snoqualmie Falls and the river canyon from the park’s observation areas
Licensing the Snoqualmie Falls Project
The Federal Power Commission, now known as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), issued the original license for the Snoqualmie Project as Project No. 2493 on May 13, 1975. The license, which was made retroactively effective as of March 1, 1956, expired on December 31, 1993.
As the end of a licensing period approaches, the FERC requires a thorough re-evaluation of a hydroelectric project before issuing a new license. The FERC's relicensing process can require years of extensive planning and collaboration that includes environmental studies, federal and state agency consultation, and public involvement. The FERC must ensure that all issues and concerns related to a hydroelectric project are identified and discussed.
PSE filed a license application with the FERC on November 25, 1991. The FERC issued a new 40-year license for the Snoqualmie Falls Project on June 29, 2004. Meeting the many requirements in the license will continue to be a day-by-day job during the entire 40-year term, as PSE addresses the environmental, cultural, recreational, and public-safety provisions in the license.
The FERC Snoqualmie Falls Project license documents, along with fact sheets about the project, are available here in PDF format.