FERC issues a 40-year license for Priest Rapids project on mid-Columbia River


Last week, FERC issued a 40-year license to the Grant County PUD to operate the Priest Rapids hydro project. The Priest Rapids project, consisting of Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams is the lowermost project on the Mid-Columbia River. Located upstream are three other FERC licensed projects- Rocky Reach, Rock Island, and Wells. The project affects multiple Columbia River species including sockeye salmon, steelhead, coho salmon, rainbow trout, and white sturgeon.After a series of short term agreements limited to Chinook protections in the Hanford reach, Grant County PUD reached an agreement with state and federal agencies and tribes regarding the long-term operations of the entire project. Components of the agreement include fish passage criteria, habitat restoration, and hatchery obligations. This agreement formed the basis for the new license. Although measures related to Fall Chinook protection in the Hanford reach are included, there is ongoing monitoring to better assess the problem.