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Grant County PUD celebrates relicense of 1,893-MW Priest Rapids

Grant County Public Utility District celebrated receipt of a relicense to operate the 1,893-MW Priest Rapids hydroelectric project for 44 more years.

Elected officials, heads of government agencies, tribes, and the community participated in the Aug. 21 celebration, held on the outside deck of Wanapum powerhouse, one of two powerhouses in Priest Rapids project (No. 2114).

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the relicense to Grant County PUD in April. (HNN 4/21/08) The original license was issued in 1955. The publicly owned utility operated the project, on the mid-Columbia River in Washington, under annual license after its original license expired in 2005.

Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator Bob Lohn, past and present commissioners, and Grant County PUD employees attended the event, as did representatives of the National Hydropower Association, the Wanapum Band of Indians, Yakama National Tribal Council, and Colville Confederated Tribes.

The congressman said Grant County has kept its promise for more than 50 years to provide and protect vital resources for its customers and the nation.

�Today, the importance of these dams and the clean power they produce continues to grow,� Hastings said. "I salute the leadership of Grant PUD and the many thousands of people who have worked to operate and maintain these projects, and advance hydropower at a time when our nation's energy security and protecting our natural resources are top concerns.�

To obtain the relicense, Grant County PUD worked with stakeholders to increase the amount of power generated by the project while intensifying efforts to protect fish, natural and cultural resources, and recreational opportunities along the river.

Grant County PUD is in the process of replacing turbines at Wanapum with advanced technology models. Construction of a $35 million downstream bypass that offers fish alternate passage through Wanapum Dam and operation of a new fishway collection system that allows for detailed research are tasks already completed in support of the new license.

Upon completion of the Wanapum turbine replacement program, the development's generating capacity will increase to 1,038 MW, bringing the entire project's total authorized installed capacity to 1,893 MW from 1,755 MW. The capacity of the Priest Rapids development is 855 MW.

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