U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today up to $30.6 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding for the selection of seven hydropower projects that modernize hydropower infrastructure by increasing efficiency and reducing environmental impacts at existing facilities. Tacoma Power was selected to receive $4.7 million to help build a new generation facility at the Cushman Hydroelectric Project that will produce enough power for 1,700 homes. The total project cost is about $23.4 million.
“I believe we were selected for this grant because the new powerhouse we proposed will generate clean, renewable energy from water that we currently discharge from the dam into the Skokomish River,” said Pat McCarty, generation manager for Tacoma Power. “It also will include a unique fish passage system that will help restore steelhead and salmon runs in the river.”
Fish passage on the North Fork Skokomish River has been blocked since the construction of two Cushman dams in the 1920s. The addition of the powerhouse with the fish collection and passage system will allow adult fish swimming upstream to the base of the dam to be trapped using a safe, passive-capture system and transported to the top of the dam, where they will be sorted, then hauled around the dams and released to the upper river.
“The tribe has been active in the relicensing of the Cushman Hydroelectric Project for years and was honored to take part in a ceremony last year at the opening of the valve at the base of Cushman No. 2 Dam,” said Skokomish Tribal Council Chair Charles Miller, in a letter of support. “That flow release signaled the beginning of the restoration of that river. This new proposed energy resource will not only harness the energy from that water, but it will also enable salmon and steelhead to be trapped and transported around the dams to spawn naturally.”
Tacoma Power also recievedallocations for the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) program. The energy bonds will help Tacoma Power obtain lower-cost financing for both the new powerhouse at Cushman Dam and for installing more effiecient hydro turbines at Mossyrock.
Tacoma Power’s application was supported by the following elected leaders, who wrote letters to support funding for this project:
- United States Senator Patty Murray
- United States Senator Maria Cantwell
- United States Congressman Norm Dicks
- Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire
Tacoma Power also received ARRA funding support from Congressmen Jay Inslee and Adam Smith.