The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license enables PSE to continue generating electricity at the facility for another 40 years. The 104-year-old project, with one power plant housed deep inside the cliff at Snoqualmie Falls and another located downstream, currently can produce 44MW of electricity at peak capacity.

PSE estimates it will spend around US$40M to comply with the terms and conditions of the new license, which include modified operating procedures and various project upgrades to better protect fish; the development of riparian habitat to promote fish propagation; increased minimum flows in the Snoqualmie river during low-water periods; and the development of new trails, picnic facilities, and other recreational amenities near the down-river power house.

In addition, the new license requires a significantly higher minimum flow of water over Snoqualmie Falls. Minimum flows over the falls now will be anywhere from two to four and a half times greater during spring and summer months.

Furthermore, PSE will replace its existing, concrete diversion dam just upriver from the falls with a hard rubber, air-filled weir that can be deflated to help lower flood waters in and around the city of Snoqualmie.

PSE will also replace the project’s existing generators with new, more efficient turbines capable of boosting output to 49MW without additional water running through the turbines.