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Puget Sound Energy's Snoqualmie Falls hydropower project reopens after overhaul

One of the Pacific Northwest's oldest power plants, the historic Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Project, is once again producing electricity for local homes and businesses following a three-year overhaul.

Puget Sound Energy's 102-year-old Plant 2 powerhouse at Snoqualmie Falls, idled in June 2010, last week restarted commercial generation of electricity. Located about a quarter mile downstream from the falls, the plant underwent near-total reconstruction under a new, 40-year federal operating license.

HydroWorld.com reported that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had approved a US$250 million plan for the project's rehabilitation in June 2009, which followed a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold its license in October 2008.

The energy site's Plant 1 powerhouse — just upstream from the falls in a bedrock cavity almost 270 feet underground — also is getting a comprehensive makeover. Built in 1898-99, the older powerhouse is scheduled to resume generating hydropower in July.

Once Plant 1 comes online this summer, Snoqualmie Falls' generating capacity will be 54 MW, compared to about 44 MW previously. The increased output, enough to serve about 40,000 homes, is being achieved through greater plant efficiencies; no additional water will run through the project's seven turbines.

Upgrades made at Plant 2 include:

Puget Sound Energy serves 1.1 million electric customers and more than 760,000 natural gas customers in 10 counties.


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