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City of Seattle
Mike McGinn (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Regulators confirm new 42-year license for City Light's Boundary Dam

8/21/2013  12:00:00 PM

Regulators confirm new 42-year license for City Light's Boundary Dam
Mitigation measures to address recreation, aquatic, terrestrial and wildlife resources

Seattle City Light has overcome the last hurdle to achieve a new license for its Boundary Hydroelectric Project, which is located on the Pend Oreille River near Metaline Falls. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) deadline for appeals of the Boundary license order expired Aug. 19.  FERC issued a new 42-year license order for Boundary Dam on March 20, 2013, consistent with a settlement agreement that City Light filed with FERC in 2010. With no appeals filed, this ends the FERC relicensing process for Boundary Dam.

“This is a significant milestone that will ensure City Light customers continue to benefit from clean hydroelectricity and low-cost power for decades to come,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “Thank you to all the parties involved who worked long and hard on this nearly decade-long relicensing process.”

City Light first filed a Notice of Intent for a new license in 2006. The formal license application was submitted by the utility in 2009 followed in 2010 by a comprehensive agreement with the settling parties. The licensing process for the Boundary Project was unique in that it was combined with the decommissioning of the Pend Oreille PUD’s Sullivan Project and removal of Mill Pond Dam that the city agreed to undertake in exchange for operational flexibility at Boundary. The dam removal will open new habitat for fish and new recreational opportunities.

“Finalizing this new license provides 42 years of certainty to Seattle ratepayers and to the utility on operations and environmental stewardship responsibilities for Boundary Dam, Seattle's largest generating asset,” said City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Chair of the Energy & Environment Committee. “We look forward to continued operations of this valuable asset while protecting the surrounding natural environment with low-impact energy generation.”

Under the new license, City Light will implement several measures to mitigate the impacts of the dam to the surrounding environment. These measures include long-term water quality monitoring programs, terrestrial habitat improvements, and wildlife monitoring programs for bald eagles, peregrine falcons and other species.

In addition, City Light will build a native salmonid conservation hatchery that will raise fish to be planted in tributaries to the Boundary Reservoir and work with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to stock area lakes annually with a broad variety of species. The utility also will restore natural habitat on tributaries that feed into the Boundary Reservoir. This will benefit westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout and mountain whitefish.

In addition, Seattle City Light will make a variety of recreational improvements in the Boundary project area including:

  • New recreational trails on the east side of the reservoir.
  • New non-motorized boat access with parking and facilities at the Metaline Falls Portage.
  • Upgrading six dispersed recreation sites along the Boundary reservoir, including sanitation systems, picnic tables, fire rings and watercraft land and tie-up areas.
  • Improvements to Metaline Park boat launch in the town of Metaline.
  • New interpretation and education sites throughout the Boundary project area.

“This has been a long and carefully managed process, drawing input from many stakeholders and taking into account wildlife protection, recreational and cultural amenities, and the water quality of the Pend Oreille River,” said City Light General Manager Jorge Carrasco. “I am especially grateful to the City Light staff and others involved in managing this important process. We are glad to have earned the trust of regulators and the many parties involved, and remain committed to being responsible stewards of this great natural resource. Final approval of the 42-year license is a critical economic benefit to City Light’s customers and to Pend Oreille PUD customers whose primary source of electricity is low-cost Boundary power."

Seattle City Light began generating power at Boundary Dam in 1967. It produces the most electricity of any City Light dam – up to 1,040 megawatts of power, or up to 40 percent of Seattle’s electricity requirements. The dam is 340 feet tall and 740 feet long.

Boundary Dam is an important economic engine in the tri-county area of northeast Washington providing 50 well-paying, skilled professional jobs. It generates more than $300,000 in sales and tax revenues within Pend Oreille County and provides impact payments to the County to help support costs for emergency services, roads, schools and other benefits.

Seattle City Light is the 10th-largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle-area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction. More information at:


Office of the Mayor

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