I received the Snohomish County PUD’s spring 2013 Current newsletter entitled “Eyes on the Environment” just before Earth Day. It was most disappointing to read that the PUD is intentionally misleading and propagating false information to its ratepayers.
On Page 7 under Small Hydropower, the PUD claims, “The utility is exploring several additional low-impact hydropower in Western Washington sites in Western Washington, which could provide energy for 10,000 to 20,000 homes in the coming years.”
What the PUD fails to mention is that the “low-impact hydropower” they are referring to is the proposed Sunset Falls Dam on the South Fork Skykomish River and is anything but “low impact.” This controversial project is as unwise an economic solution to our power needs as it is damaging to the environment. What the PUD fails to tell us is:
•The North Fork of the Sky is designated part of the Washington State Scenic River system;
•Dams have been proposed in this area have been denied four times in the past 30-years;
The flow over Sunset and Canyon Falls will be altered forever and reduced to a trickle;
The dam is located in critical habitat for endangered Bull Trout and salmon species;
The estimated cost of the project is $150-million for 10,000 homes or $15,000 per home;
During summer months, there is not sufficient flow to generate power;
Climate change will further diminish power generation;
The dam conflicts with Washington state law for renewable energy credits under I-937;
The intake structure alone is as big as Seahawk stadium;
Over 165,000 cubic yards of granite will be blasted and hauled away for disposal;
•A 19-foot diameter tunnel half a mile long will be blasted through granite for the penstock;
Is this major construction project in an environmentally sensitive area low-impact? I think not!
Just imagine what a grant of $15,000 would do for 10,000 homes if this money were spent on installing solar power.
PUD has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its dam and hearings will likely be scheduled in June. I urge all ratepayers to oppose this project and let their PUD commissioners know too.
William Lider, PE