By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
SULTAN — The Youngs Creek hydropower project, recently built by the Snohomish County Public Utility District, has been selected by Renewable Energy World as the winner of its Hydro Project of the Year Award.
The $29 million project, south of Sultan, opened last fall. The dam, 12 feet tall and 65 feet across, is the first new one in the state in more than a quarter of a century, according to the PUD.
The online publication chose the project because it generates power with little or no effect on the environment, according to a video on the website.
The dam is located above a waterfall that presents a natural barrier to salmon. Water is piped downhill to a powerhouse where it spins turbines to generate the electricity. The water is then fed back into the creek.
“It answers some of the most pressing issues for hydropower,” the video narrator said. “Migrating fish remain unaffected as the river does not change course.”
Since it opened, the hydropower project has met its projections of producing enough energy on average for 2,000 homes, spokesman Neil Neroutsos said. This represents about two-thirds of 1 percent of PUD customers.
Still, PUD officials have said the dam and powerhouse generate their highest electricity output in the rainy season when power is needed most, as noted in the video.
The PUD owns and operates two other dams, one large and one small. The 640-foot-long, 263-foot-high Culmback Dam at Spada Lake produces enough energy to serve nearly 36,000 homes. The reservoir also provides much of the county’s drinking water.
In 2008, the PUD bought a tiny, 6-foot-tall dam and powerhouse on Woods Creek near Monroe from a private utility company for $1.1 million. It was built in 1982.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.