PSE’s Baker River fish passage operations has record-breaking year

While the Baker River Hydroelectric Project on the Skagit River is PSE’s largest hydropower facility, it does more than generate power. It also helps salmon. As background, in 2008, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued PSE a new 50-year license for this hydroelectric project. The new license includes specific requirements, including increasing fish populations and preventing the dam from disrupting fish migration.

Through continued collaboration with resource agencies and Northwest Indian tribes, PSE developed strategies to help the fish population. We installed a fish passage operation to trap migrating fish and haul them up or downstream around the dams (which are too tall for conventional fish ladders). We also built a state-of-the-art hatchery to breed fish and expanded the hatchery in 2022. These investments and more have increased the number of fish in the river.

This year, PSE staff transported a record 1.2 million juvenile fish downstream, breaking 2017’s record of 1.1 million fish. The more juvenile fish that go out to the ocean, the better chance more adult fish return several years later. 

We also saw a record 65,000 adult sockeye salmon return, more than double the 31,000 we forecasted for this year. This return is a stark contrast from the low in the mid-1980s when only 99 sockeye salmon returned and the population was on the brink of extinction. Our work at the Baker River Hydroelectric Project is making a difference for people, fish, and wildlife!

You can read more about PSE’s record-breaking fish return in KING 5’s story here.