Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

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Skagit County sues Seattle for utility financial records


MOUNT VERNON — A fight over the lack of fish passage at Seattle City Light dams escalated Tuesday when Skagit County sued the city of Seattle to force the release of some of the utility’s financial records.

The county seeks the release of records under the state Public Records Act. The records include an accounting of the value of power sold from each of the three hydroelectric dams on the Skagit River, the Seattle Times reported.

“We just want the city to listen, to work with us and the tribes, and roll up their sleeves and work on fish passage,” said Peter Browning, one of three Skagit County commissioners. “They say they can’t afford it. Well, let us see the financials.”

Julie Moore, spokesperson for Seattle City Light, said the utility does not comment on litigation but is looking hard at the question of fish passage as part of an ongoing process to re-license the dams with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The city operates three dams — Gorge, Diablo and Ross — on the Skagit. The dams generate about 20% of the power used by City Light customers. The dams were built beginning in 1917 without fish passage, and block passage by salmon and steelhead from reaching the upper third of the watershed.