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This newsletter provides updates about the federal relicensing of the Skagit Hydroelectric Project. More information is available on the project website or by emailing the project team at scl_skagitrelicensing@seattle.gov.

Project Update: Draft License Application Submitted

Seattle City Light submitted a Draft License Application (DLA) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) earlier this month. This is an important and required milestone in the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project relicensing process and a testament to City Light’s continued collaboration with Tribes, Canadian First Nations, federal and state agencies, and other licensing participants.

What’s in the DLA?

The DLA is a snapshot of the considerable progress being made by City Light and partners on relicensing the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project (Project). It has important information about the Project, including why it should be relicensed, how the Project is managed, what the power generated by the Project is used for, what it costs and related issues. The DLA covers many, but not all, of the issues that will ultimately be addressed in the final license application (FLA).

Relicensing involves complex environmental issues that are made all the more challenging by our changing climate. While hydropower is essential to providing Seattle with clean energy, we know that no energy source comes without cost. That’s why the relicensing process is so important. The license and other partner agreements will show how City Light is managing the watershed ecosystem as a whole, and how City Light manages issues like flood management, impacts on fish and wildlife, recreational opportunities, education, cultural resources, and harvests for Tribes.

The draft also includes a detailed environmental analysis, which is based on science developed in collaboration with our partners. Licensing participants have actively worked with City Light to develop many of the proposed protection, mitigation, and enhancement measures included in the DLA. (You can find a summary of the proposed measures on the Skagit Relicensing webpage.) Other measures are reflective of what City Light is already doing that is working in the current license or a draft proposal that will be discussed with license participants before the FLA is filed. 

What’s Next

While there’s more work to be done, licensing participants, researchers, engineers, and others have made significant progress. City Light will continue engaging with our partners and using FERC-approved studies to further develop the final license application.

The final license application is on track to be submitted in April 2023.

Strengthening Education Through Collaboration


Seattle City Light offers wildlife research funding to qualified recipients for the purpose of developing understanding, management, and protection of wildlife resources in the North Cascades ecosystem. Since 1995, we have funded a wide range of research projects on topics like riparian plant communities, aquatic invertebrates, shorebirds in the Skagit Delta, lynx ecology, land bird monitoring, mountain goats, American pika, wolverines, amphibians and grizzly bears.

The research projects have produced not only many graduate school theses, dissertations and technical reports, but also more than a dozen peer-reviewed professional journal publications. The projects have helped to inform agencies on such topics as mountain goat reintroduction, assessment of potential grizzly bear habitat, and substantial new information on wolverine movements and ecology.

Individual grants are awarded annually and can range from $5,000 to $65,000, depending on the scope and quality of the proposal. Visit the grant program webpage to learn more about the grant schedule, qualifications, and application process.

Eagle Season in Skagit

Winter is prime eagle-watching season in the Skagit region. Beginning in late November or early December, Bald Eagles make their annual migration from Canada and Alaska down to feast on chum salmon in the Skagit River. Throughout the season you will find a variety of viewing opportunities, including guided nature walks from the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center in Rockport, WA. Learn more by visiting the Center’s website

Spotlight: Mike Aronowitz, Senior Resource Planner

Mike Aronowitz is a Senior Resource Planner in Seattle City Light’s Natural Resources and Hydro Licensing Division, currently leading the Recreation Program as part of the Skagit Hydroelectric Project relicensing effort.  In this excerpt from his recent Employee Spotlight on City Light’s Powerlines Blog, Mike gives us a glimpse into his work:

Tell us about your role. What does your job entail?  My team works with federal and state agencies, Indian Tribes, and other partners to protect and improve natural and cultural resources at City Light’s hydroelectric projects.

The biggest component of my job is outdoor recreation planning, particularly at the Boundary and Skagit Projects. Before I came to work at City Light, I had no idea that an electric utility would be involved with outdoor recreation. But City Light plays an essential role in providing access to recreational opportunities on public lands and waters where we generate electricity and mitigating the impacts our operations may have on recreation. In recent years, we’ve developed new recreation facilities like campgrounds, boat launches, and trails; continued providing the historic Skagit Tours on Diablo Lake and developed new museum-style interpretive exhibits; and monitored recreation use so we can continue to provide the desired experience. It’s an incredibly diverse job. One day I might be on a Teams video conference with licensing partners; the next day I might be on a backcountry trail downloading trail counter data.

What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on/have been working on at City Light? Why? It’s hard to choose just one, so I am going to go outside the box and mention something that is not one of my core job responsibilities. Since 2014, I’ve volunteered to give tours at the monthly open house at the Georgetown Steam Plant, a National Historic Landmark owned by City Light. Every month, a great group of history and technology people, artists and photographers, and just curious people from around the community come to share the space. I encourage everyone to visit! 

Read Mike’s full Employee Spotlight on the Powerlines blog.

City Light's Hydroelectric Resources


Learn more about the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project and other City Light hydroelectric resources.

Skagit Tours and Recreation


Explore the Skagit River and the beauty of the North Cascades.

Skagit Relicensing Project Resources Page


Learn more about the relicensing process, including the library of public documents.


Seattle City Light provides our customers with affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy services.

City Light Website | Powerlines Blog

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