Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project

Photo: Packwood Lake Hydroelectric Project

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 40-year operating license was issued in October 2018.

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Quick Facts

  • Type: Hydropower facility
  • Generating capacity: 27.5 megawatts (net)
  • Location: Packwood, Wash.

Packwood Fact Sheet - PDF Format


  • Construction and 50-year operating license issued: July 1960
  • Construction contracts issued: September 1961
  • Construction started: Spring 1962
  • Plant testing and initial operation: June 1964