Seattle City Light Evacuates Diablo as Goodell Creek Fire Approaches

Seattle City Light started evacuating employees Wednesday from the town of Diablo and helped evacuate visitors at the North Cascades Institute’s Environmental Learning Center on Diablo Lake and at the Ross Lake Resort as the Goodell Creek Fire approached facilities at the utility’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project.

The fire was burning on the north side of Highway 20 in Newhalem across from City Light’s Skagit administration building and east of the Gorge Powerhouse. Prevailing winds were pushing the fire east toward Diablo.

Highway 20 between the utility-owned towns of Newhalem and Diablo was shut down by a fallen tree and numerous rocks loosened by the fire.

No injuries have been reported. All City Light employees and their families are accounted for. Two employees did leave Newhalem earlier in the day after complaining of respiratory difficulties from the smoke.

City Light was operating its three dams remotely, but the fire forced the utility to shut down the transmission lines that carry electricity from the hydroelectric project. Spillgates at all three dams were being opened to maintain river flows to protect fish. The inability to deliver electricity could cost the utility about $100,000 per day.

Six City Light firefighters with two fire engines were working to protect people and property from the blaze. One crew was working with the National Park Service. The other was defending the Gorge Powerhouse.

Skagit Tours scheduled for Thursday through Sunday have been canceled.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Newhalem, Diable Wastewater Treatment Plants Awarded for Perfect Performance in 2013

Seattle City Light’s wastewater treatment plants in Newhalem and Diablo earned perfect scores and Outstanding Wastewater Treatment Plant Awards from the Washington Department of Ecology for 2013.

“Treatment plant operators are professional who understandably take a lot of pride in their work and its importance in protecting the environment. It is an honor to recognize their contributions with these awards,” said Heather Bartlett, manager of Ecology’s Water Quality Program.

Award winning plants passed all environmental tests, analyzed all samples, turned in all state-required reports and avoided permit violations during 2013.

The Newhalem and Diablo plants at City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project were among 126 plants that achieved a perfect score for 2013.

This is the sixth consecutive year the Diablo plant has earned the award, the second consecutive award for Newhalem and the 13th time both plants have been recognized since the awards were started in 1995.

About 330 wastewater treatment plants operate in Washington. When the award program began in 1995, only 14 treatment plants had perfect compliance.

A complete list of the award winners by county is available on Ecology’s website.

City Light Recognized by State Historic Preservation Officer Awards

 

Ross Lodge after the renovations.

The Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) recently announced that Seattle City Light is one of the 11 recipients for the State Historic Preservation Officer’s Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation.

Seattle City Light was nominated for its rehabilitation of the Ross Lodge in the company town of Diablo, in eastern Whatcom County.  Before starting work on the historic Ross Lodge, Seattle City Light made sure that rehabilitation of the lodge would not damage sensitive archaeological resources in the project vicinity. The 75-year old dormitory has been repurposed as an executive conference center after having been abandoned for more than 20 years.

“We are thankful for the honor granted us by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. This recognition highlights Seattle City Light’s leadership in preservation work and demonstrates our efforts to make historic preservation a priority as the Nation’s Greenest Utility,” City Light Chief of Staff Sephir Hamilton said.

 

Ross Lodge before the renovations.

Other recent preservation efforts include rehabilitation on the Gorge Inn, the anchor building on old Main Street in Newhalem, part of the Skagit National Register Historic District. “The utility is embracing stewardship of their unique cultural resources in a bold and thoughtful manner. Our hats are off to Seattle City Light,” said Gretchen Luxenberg, a cultural resources specialist with the National Park Service.

“This is an incredible achievement by many people who worked tirelessly and had the vision, passion and persistence to push forward and restore a building that would have been easy to give up on. The Ross Lodge is an example of strong civic stewardship commitment by City Light,” said Bernie O’Donnell, director of Utility Support Services.

“This has been fantastic work by the entire team and I want to thank all of the participants that worked on this renovation. Gaining recognition with an award like this is icing on the cake, and all involved should be very proud of this accomplishment,” Power Supply and Environmental Affairs Officer Michael Jones said in expressing his congratulations to the many City Light employees and departments that worked together to ensure the successful completion of the renovation.

 

The renovated Ross Lodge is now being used as an executive conference center.

The awards program is currently in its 24th year, and exists to recognize persons, organizations and projects that have achieved distinction in the field of historic preservation. This year, the ceremony will be held on May 13 in the Columbia Room of the Legislative Building in Olympia. Washington State Historic Preservation Officer Allyson Brooks will be the event speaker. The event coincides with National Historic Preservation Month. The awards are given for preservation efforts that epitomize the spirit of the late Valerie Sivinski, a Tacoma-area architect who became Washington state’s first Capitol conservator.

More information about the award recipients is available at www.dahp.wa.gov, or by contacting Russell Holter of the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation at 360.586.3533 or russell.holter@dahp.wa.gov.

About Seattle City Light

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.