Relicensing the South Fork Tolt Hydroelectric Project

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South Fork Tolt Reservoir and Dam Aerial View

Project Description

The City of Seattle owns and operates the South Fork Tolt Hydroelectric Project (Project) under a license administered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Through Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities, the City is working to relicense the Project and will be working closely with federal and state agencies, Tribes, and other licensing participants throughout the multi-year relicensing process.

The 16.8-megawatt Project is City Light’s newest hydroelectric facility. The Project was completed in 1995 to generate electricity from the existing Tolt Reservoir and Dam, which are owned and operated by Seattle Public Utilities to provide about 30-40% of the drinking water supply for 1.5 million people in the greater Seattle area.

The City's goal for the relicensing process is to obtain a new FERC license that enables City Light to continue to deliver affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible energy services to our customers in a manner that maintains the City's long-term water supply. While the Project supplies less than 1% of City Light's power requirements, it is an important source of renewable energy for its customers. It powers the Tolt Water Treatment Facility and helps balance out the power provided by other renewable sources in the region, thus filling in gaps and increasing resiliency within the local power grid.

FERC issued the City its original license for the Project in the 1980s. This 40-year license will expire in July 2029. The City formally initiated the relicensing process with the filing of its Notice of Intent (NOI) to relicense the Project, as well as a Pre-Application Document (PAD), on April 8, 2024. The City will continue to work with Tribes, federal and state resource agencies, Licensing Participants, and other interested parties to develop and implement a study plan, which will inform the City’s application for a new license to be filed with FERC no later than July 19, 2027.

Location

The Project is located on the South Fork Tolt River, approximately 35 miles east of the city of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, near the towns of Carnation and Duvall. All Project facilities are located within unincorporated King County on the South Fork of the Tolt River, which merges with the North Fork Tolt River below the Project to form the Tolt River, a tributary to the Snoqualmie River.

Community Benefits

Issuance of a new FERC license will allow the City to continue producing clean, carbon-free energy from the Project for the next 30-50 years. Through the relicensing process, the City will coordinate with licensing participants and interested parties to develop proposed protection, mitigation, and enhancement measures for inclusion in the new license to benefit environmental and cultural resources impacted by the Project during the new license term.

What's Happening Now?

Project Update (June 2024): On May 31, 2024, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued their scoping document for relicensing the South Fork Tolt Hydroelectric Project. The scoping document is available for review. See FERC’s eLibrary, enter the P-2959 docket number, and look for Accession #20240531-3026 filed on May 31, 2024.

FERC staff will hold two scoping meetings and a site visit later this month.

A scoping meeting Tuesday, June 25 will seek input from the public. A second scoping meeting on Wednesday, June 26 will focus on input from Tribes, resource agencies, Licensing Participants, and other interested parties. FERC invites interested parties to attend one or both meetings. Feedback helps FERC identify study needs and the scope of environmental issues to be considered during the relicensing process.

  • Evening Scoping Meeting (primarily for receiving input from the public)
    Date: Tuesday, June 25
    Time: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. (PDT)
    Location: Cherry Creek Falls Event Center, 16533 Kelly Road Northeast, Duvall, WA 98019
  • Daytime Scoping Meeting (focused on input from Tribes, resource agencies, and non-governmental organizations)
    Date: Wednesday, June 26
    Time: 9 a.m. -11 a.m. (PDT)
    Location: Cherry Creek Falls Event Center, 16533 Kelly Road Northeast, Duvall, WA 98019
  • On-site Environmental Review
    Date: Wednesday, June 26
    Time: Starting at 11 a.m.
    RSVP Required by Tuesday, June 18
    Please contact Elizabeth Ablow with Seattle City Light at (206) 561-4833 or Elizabeth.Ablow@seattle.gov; or Maura Patterson with Seattle Public Utilities at (206) 450-6543 or Maura.Patterson@seattle.gov. No personal vehicles will be allowed; however, shuttle bus transportation and lunch will be provided for registered participants.

People who cannot attend the meeting, but would like to share input, can submit comments online at efiling-user-guide.pdf (ferc.gov) by Tuesday, Aug. 6.

As the relicensing progresses, the City continues to work with Tribes, federal and state resource agencies, Licensing Participants, and other interested parties to identify and design a study plan to fill in gaps in our collective knowledge and inform the details of the new license.

South Fork Tolt FERC Relicensing Schedule

Visit the online library to find relicensing documents for the South Fork Tolt Project, background information about the South Fork Tolt Municipal Watershed, and additional resources as they become available.

High-Tech “Spherical” Video of the South Fork Tolt Project
This interactive spherical video provides an opportunity to view the hydroelectric project and its facilities, the Tolt Reservoir and Dam, and the South Fork Tolt River as it joins the Tolt River and enters the Snoqualmie River.

If you would like to sign up for regular updates on the South Fork Tolt relicensing process, click the button below.

City Light

Dawn Lindell, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Ave, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34023, Seattle, WA, 98124-4023
Phone: (206) 684-3000
SCL_ExternalComms@seattle.gov

Seattle City Light was created by the citizens of Seattle in 1902 to provide affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible electric power to the City of Seattle and neighboring suburbs.