Puget Sound Energy (PSE) said Feb. 23 that crews are currently replacing the turbine wheel covers on Units 1 through 4 at the Snoqualmie hydroelectric facility.
The original wheel covers have been in place for more than 118 years, going back to when the world’s first underground hydroelectric power plant went into service. Two local companies built the new ones in the same style as the old, PSE said in a news release.
Even after dozens of repairs and patches over the years, the old covers still leaked and needed to be replaced. The turbine housing below the covers, which are also part of the original installation, will remain.
Snoqualmie Falls recently underwent a four-year redevelopment project, which included substantial upgrades and enhancements to the power-generating infrastructure and areas for public recreation, such as trails and new boardwalk.
The hydro project is located about 30 miles east of Seattle on the Cascade Mountains’ western slope. The project consists of a small diversion apparatus just upstream from Snoqualmie Falls, and two powerhouses. The first powerhouse, encased in bedrock 260 feet beneath the surface, was the world’s first completely underground power plant.
Hydroelectricity is the single largest resource in PSE’s power-supply mix, comprising 42% of the utility’s electric resources. Of this, 8% comes from two PSE-owned generating facilities in Washington State: the Baker River Hydroelectric Project in Skagit County and the Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Project in King County, according to a PSE website.