The Snohomish County PUD, when advocating building a hydro power plant on the south fork of the Skykomish River, presents many details about construction of the facility, but so far has been silent when it comes to justifying it financially. For around $170 million, the SnoPUD will get a paltry 1 percent of its total energy from this project, but not in the winter as the Monday article, “PUD’s studies support proposed mini-dam on Skykomish” states. Major power generation would occur in the spring when the river flows are higher from snow melt. Unfortunately, power demand is higher in the winter in Snohomish County.
The PUD has not yet mentioned publicly the estimate to fund the overhaul of the fish passage facility, including the annual cost to run it. If this project goes through, PUD ratepayers will pick up the tab for hauling fish. Currently, that is funded through the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The cost to operate the fish facility will be shifted from all the citizens of the state down to just SnoPUD ratepayers.
Finally, SnoPUD’s Youngs Creek project lost $1.4 million last year, leading one to seriously question the overall strategy of this public utility. Power from Young’s Creek was sold on the open market for less than it cost to generate.
Before further discussing the proposed Sunset Falls project on the Skykomish, someone with good business sense needs to look at the entirety of the proposed Sunset Falls Project, especially in light of the recent experience with Youngs Creek.