Project Update: Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project New License Compliance and Implementation Efforts

McMillen Jacobs and Associates Logo
Print Image

McMillen Jacobs is in its second year of a multi-year effort to support all aspects of the new FERC License issued to Energy Northwest for the Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project (P-2244) located near Packwood, Washington.  Key members of the compliance team have worked with Energy Northwest as far back as 2004 and supported the entirety of their FERC relicensing process up to and now beyond the receipt of their new operating license in October of 2018.

Due to no fault of Energy Northwest, there was a substantial delay between their filing of the license application and the ultimate issuance of the new license from FERC.  This delay resulted in a significant amount of turn-over and loss of institutional knowledge from the state and federal stakeholders.  As such, a bulk of the initial compliance year consisted of an extensive amount of effort re-integrating with requisite state and federal agencies, getting them up to speed on all requirements of the new license and beginning to genuinely collaborate on all of the license terms and conditions that need to be implemented, per the FERC license.

In parallel with those collaborative efforts, a series of initial monitoring efforts kicked-off in 2019.  Packwood Lake’s only fish species is a unique strain of rainbow trout originally from the eastside of the Cascade Mountain Range.  In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s these fish were transported over the mountains and stocked into Packwood Lake where they have successfully established themselves.  While the lake population is extremely healthy, there was some concern associated with the potential impacts to the fish as a result of project operations.  A primary compliance measure is an evaluation of both the entrainment potential through the project intake and a habitat restoration and relocation program to ensure a persistent population of rainbow downstream of the Project’s diversion structure.  McMillen Jacobs has developed the various study regimes for these efforts and is currently implementing them in the field.  In September 2020, McMillen Jacobs will be installing a fish exclusion barrier that we have designed near the intake to prevent fish access to the forebay and alleviate the need for additional monitoring in the future.

In the next few years, a significant amount of emphasis will be placed on two substantial aquatic habitat restoration efforts for ESA listed Chinook, Coho, and Steelhead in both the bypass reach and another tributary to the Cowlitz River impacted by the Project’s infrastructure.  McMillen Jacobs is responsible for all agency interaction, feasibility studies, natural resource investigations, permitting and design/engineering for these two multi-year efforts.  To date, we have had substantial collaboration with requisite stakeholders, developed draft restoration plans and drawings, and begun the permitting process.  The intent is to utilize the next 2-3 years to complete design and permitting and implement the Projects in 2023-2025.  A number of disciplines from the regulatory, natural resource and engineering areas of our Water Resources Group are being utilized for these efforts.

McMillen Jacobs is the lead consultant for the entire compliance and implementation effort to take place over the next 5 years.  Other key areas of emphasis include:

•  Overall consulting management for the entire compliance and implementation effort (over 20 discrete natural resource and engineering measures)
•  Development of all regulatory and natural resource documents
•  Management and/or implementation of all natural resource monitoring activities
•  Management of all consultation activities with state and federal agencies and FERC
•  Strategic planning related to monitoring approaches and interaction with stakeholders
•  Meeting facilitation
•  All design and engineering associated with habitat restoration efforts
•  Development and maintenance of comprehensive compliance tracker

To learn more about the history of Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project, it’s relicensing process and the current compliance activities, visit: