A 50-year licence has been given for Baker River, which is owned and operated by Puget Sound Energy (PSE), part of Puget Energy. The scheme, with two dams on the Skagit river, is the company’s largest hydro power asset. The first 50-year licence was awarded in 1956.

PSE said the relicensing result follows years of collaborative studies (76 major studies) and negotiated settlements with a range of stakeholders. Features of the resulting changes include improved flood control and public recreation facilities, but the key work has been on fish protection.

In total, the cost of preparing for and meeting the new licence conditions, as well as operating the plant, will be about US$360M, PSE estimates. More than half of the cost is for fish protection measures, it added.

The scheme has been operating on an annual FERC licence since 2006 though a relicensing settlement agreement was reached in 2004.