Skagit River Hydroelectric Project

Diablo Glaciers Photo

The Skagit River Hydroelectric Project is located in Whatcom, Skagit, and Snohomish counties in the upper watershed of the Skagit River in the Cascade Mountains. The Project consists of three power-generating facilities - Ross, Diablo, and Gorge - that supply approximately 20% of City Light's electric power. The Project includes over 100 miles of transmission lines from the Diablo Switchyard to the Bothell Substation.

The operational priorities in order of importance are flood control, downstream fish protection, recreation, and power production.

In 2003, the Skagit Project was the first large hydroelectric facility in the nation to be certified as a Low Impact Hydropower Project - recognizing it for its commitment to environmental stewardship.

Relicensing the Skagit Project

The Skagit Project operates under a federal license that will expire on April 30, 2025. We are currently collaborating with local partners to develop an application for a new license that will last for the next thirty to fifty years. This includes working with federal and state agencies, Tribes, and other organizations to determine how best to protect the natural and cultural resources of the area for the duration of the new license.

Fish Protection

At the Skagit Project, we adjust flows through the dams on a seasonal, monthly, and daily basis to supply the right amount of water for adult salmon and steelhead when they return to lay their eggs and to protect the young fish when they emerge. We work closely with regional partners to restore and protect habitat that salmon and steelhead need to complete their life cycles.

Wildlife Habitat Protection

We have purchased over 10,000 acres of land dedicated to fish and wildlife habitat preservation, and we provide annual funding for wildlife research and monitoring by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. We converted a historic building into a laboratory to support research on wildlife and vegetation in the North Cascades ecosystem, and our ongoing management of the right-of-way along roads and transmission lines is designed to enhance natural vegetation and increase species diversity.

Learn more about our work to protect the environment.

Recreational Opportunities

The Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake is supported by City Light with an educational endowment to fund educational programs at the learning center. We also provide funding to build new trails and outdoor learning areas, as well as to build, renovate and maintain recreational trails, campgrounds, and boat launches on lands managed by the National Park Service and US Forest Service. For nearly 100 years we have provided boat tours for visitors to enjoy the beauty of the North Cascades while also learning more about hydroelectricity and the rich history of Seattle City Light.

Erosion Control

City Light provides funding to the National Park Service to stabilize and replant native vegetation on eroded sites along Ross Lake and Project roads. This reduces sedimentation, protects salmon spawning habitats, and improves the beauty of the area. We also fund the maintenance of a greenhouse to grow native plants for use in landscaping and erosion control.

Cultural Site Protection

We actively protect historic buildings and facilities determined to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. To mitigate impacts to cultural and archaeological resources, we work with local Tribes, First Nations, and federal land managers.

Supporting Local Tribes

City Light has supported the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, Sauk-Suiattle Tribe and Nlaka'pamux Nation for cultural activities and to inventory and protect their traditional cultural properties.

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

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.