PUBLIC MEETING THIS WEEK IN BATTLE OVER SKYKOMISH RIVER DAM PROJECT
June 10, 2013
(INDEX, WA) -- The battle lines have been drawn, sides have been taken and an old fashioned donnybrook is breaking out over the fate of the upper Skykomish River here in the Sky Valley.
FLYER produced by Friends of the Skykomish River shows where dam would be built on the river. CLICK TO OPEN
Flyer produced by Friends of the Skykomish shows approximate size, super imposed on large football stadium, of the underground intake facility for the dam. CLICK TO ENLARGE
Sunset Falls along the Skykomish River. Photo: Frinds of the Skykomish. CLICK TO ENLARGE
The spot along the Skykomish River where proposed small footprint dam would be located. CLICK TO ENLARGE
You could say it's a classic NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) fight.
One one side you have the The Snohomish County PUD looking for ways to increase power generating capacity to serve the electricity needs of a growing county. A lot of new families and businesses will call this area home over the next twenty years.
The PUD is in the early stages of exploring the creation of a new, small-footprint hydro-electric power generating facility along the Skykomish River at Index. This isn’t your stereotypical "big dam" project.
The PUD sent a letter to residents in and around Index advising that on September 28, 2011 the PUD had filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a preliminary permit for the proposed Sunset Falls Hydroelectric Project (Project) near Index.
“Small hydro sites generally generate less than 30 megawatts. They are located outside of sensitive areas, such as designated wilderness sites, and above natural impassible barriers, such as waterfalls, so as not to affect migrating fish populations,” said PUD spokesman Neil Neroutsos at the time.
The PUD maintains that small hydropower is a renewable energy source that is cost effective, clean and that complements other green energy sources such as wind and solar energy.
More on that story can be found here
But various opponents of the project have assembled under the banner of Friends of the Skykomish River (FOSR) and they see bad things in the future resulting from what they say is a bad place to put a dam.
In a recent letter to Snohomish County Public Utility Commissioners Kathleen Vaughn, Toni Olson and David Aldrich, FOSR wrote, "Despite widespread opposition, a Washington State power company SnoPUD has proposed building a new dam and power plant on the protected Skykomish River. This environmental catastrophe would partially de-water over a mile of river, including two pristine waterfalls, Canyon Falls and Sunset Falls.
SnoPUD’s proposed dam is a $150 million boondoggle that would produce minimal energy – less than 1% of their energy portfolio - while posing serious risks to our environment, recreation opportunities, and quality of life."
The group produced a flyer (at upper right) showing where the dam would be built and what part of the river the water would come from to power the generators. The group also produced a flyer showing the size of the underground facility that would be needed for the dam.
The letter to the PUD commissioners mentions the irony that at present Washington State taxpayers are spending $324.7 million to remove two Washington State dams on the Elwha River and the area of the Skykomish targeted for the dam, "Is one of only four Scenic Rivers designated for protection by the Washington State Legislature."
Foes of the dam project maintain it would have major negative impacts on the river that could not be reversed.
If you'd like to weigh in with your opinion a public meeting is being held this Wednesday June 12 in Index on the proposed project.
Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are coming to Sunset Falls along the river, with PUD managers, for a site visit at 3:00 pm on June 12.
At 6:00 pm that same day there will be a public meeting at the Index fire station (512 Avenue A) where FERC members will hear from members of the public their thoughts on the proposed dam.