Project: Hydropower upgrades/Carbon offset generation
Jurisdiction: Chelan County, Wash.
Agency: Public Utilities District
Vendor: Broomfield, Colo.-based MWH
Date: 2003-ongoing
Cost: $410 million

Chelan County, Wash., Public Utilities District (Chelan PUD) has become the first hydroelectric power producer to provide carbon dioxide (CO 2) offsets for the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), a voluntary program for trading greenhouse gas credits. The district is providing offsets for approximately 1.75 million megawatt hours of electricity generated at one of its powerhouses, which will bring in revenue for PUD conservation projects and system efficiency improvements.

Chelan PUD is able to participate in CCX because of upgrades to its hydroelectric system that modernized, improved efficiency and reduced the environmental effects of its three powerhouses along the Columbia River: Rocky Reach Dam, Rock Island and Lake Chelan. Chelan PUD contracted with environmental engineering firm MWH to manage the refurbishment of the three powerhouses, two of which are still being upgraded.

In a separate project led by the Chelan PUD, a fish bypass system was constructed at Rocky Reach Dam to move juvenile fish downstream. The bypass is improving fish survival rates while also increasing annual generation capacity at the plant. As a result of those improvements and the plant modernization, the increased power generation was equivalent to a reduction of more than 700,000 metric tons of CO 2 between 2003 and 2006, according Chelan PUD and MWH.

Using that data, in 2007 Chelan PUD became the first hydropower producer to be certified by CCX to provide CO 2 offsets. CCX members vow to reduce their direct CO 2 emissions by 6 percent by 2010, either by directly reducing emissions or by purchasing carbon offsets from renewable energy projects. The utility's participation in CCX signifies growing opportunities for hydropower producers to be recognized as alternative energy providers in the U.S., says Tracy Yount, Chelan PUD external affairs director.