Construction on the Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project – Energy Northwest’s first electric power project – started in 1962, and operation began in 1964. Located five miles east of Packwood, Wash., in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, it has the capacity to produce 27.5 megawatts of electricity.
The project was conceived and designed to be operated with minimal impact on the lake and surrounding area. The power plant structures are limited to a small diversion and intake structure a short distance downstream from the outlet of Packwood Lake. A five-mile underground pipeline carries the water down the mountainside to a powerhouse. The 1,800-foot drop in elevation creates 780 pounds per square inch of pressure at the generator turbine, which produces the electricity.
The Packwood Lake project produces electricity at significantly lower cost than similar facilities in the region. Its power also is much less expensive than wind, solar and other renewable options.
Packwood’s current 50-year operating license expired in 2010. Energy Northwest applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to renew the license for an additional 50 years and was granted a one-year extension while FERC finalizes its review of the application.
Learn more about hydro power