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Subject:   Seattle's Skagit Project Receives Recertification as Low-Impact Hydro
For Immediate Release:   
9/24/2008  11:46:00 AM
For More Information Contact:
Scott Thomsen  (206) 386-4233


First large hydro in the country to receive designation

SEATTLE -The Low Impact Hydropower Institute has awarded Seattle City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project a recertification.

"The Governing Board unanimously voted to award Seattle’s Skagit Project recertification," stated Fred Ayer, executive director for the Institute. "Seattle City Light continues to meet Low Impact criteria."

The recertification, is normally valid for five years, however, this recertification is for eight years. The extra three years are in recognition of City Light’s program to protect and restore key habitat for Endangered Species Act-listed species in the Skagit watershed. During that time, City Light must maintain compliance to retain certification. The Skagit Project was the first large hydroelectric project in the country to meet the Institute’s stringent standards for low impact.

"This designation acknowledges the hard work our plant operators are doing to maintain sustainability on the Skagit. It also is validation of the exceptional fish protection program we have in place," said Superintendent of City Light, Jorge Carrasco. "This recertification recognizes we''re generating electricity in a way that''s fish-friendly and environmentally sound."

The Skagit Project includes three City Light dams and powerhouses - Ross, Diablo and Gorge - on a 40-mile stretch of this scenic river. To be certified, the three Skagit facilities were examined alone and together, against criteria in eight key areas. The criteria areas are: river and stream flows, water quality, fish passage and protection, watershed protection, threatened and endangered species protection, cultural resource protection, recreation, and facilities. The examination involves written documentation, consultations with state, Tribal, and federal agencies, public comment, and records of flows, water quality, and fish habitat.

The Skagit River is now home to the largest and healthiest runs of wild chum salmon, and supports one of the largest runs of chinook and pink salmon in the Pacific Northwest. Many spawn directly below the project. Under City Light’s flow-management program, there has been a four- to six-fold increase in spawning numbers in recent years.

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute is a nonprofit organization that certifies environmentally sound, low-impact facilities nationwide and supports incentives to reduce the effects of hydropower dams on rivers and streams. This certification puts an official stamp of approval on the Skagit as a facility with environmental impacts that are low, compared to other hydropower facilities, based on objective criteria. Certification means the facility is well sited, well operated, exceeds current legal requirements, and meets other defined environmental quality standards. Certification also qualifies the power produced at the Skagit project for participation in some Green Power programs.



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