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McNary Fishway Hydro Project


The District has a 50% ownership share of the McNary Project, a 10 MW turbine generator located in the fish attraction water system for the McNary Dam North Shore Fishway.  McNary Dam is located on the Columbia River approximately 180 miles east of Portland, Oregon, joining Umatilla County, Oregon with Benton County, Washington, and is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Lake Wallula lies directly behind McNary dam and extends 64 miles upstream to the US DOE Hanford site.  

McNary Dam 

The District developed the McNary Project jointly with Northern Wasco County Peoples’ Utility District, headquartered in The Dalles, Oregon.  The PUD’s entered into an Ownership Agreement in August of 1995 and the Project started commercial operation in November 1997.   The total cost of the project was 29 million dollars.

The project uses one of two fish ladders on the Dam.  Supplementary water flow is rerouted to the ladder, runs through the turbine and then routed back to its original path.


This method utilizes an energy source without subtracting from the water flow for the fish attraction system and brings the mortality numbers of the fish caught in the previous turbulent fish attraction system down by 85%.

The project produced a total of 82,365 MW’s in 2010 and since coming on line has averaged annually 75,815 MW’s. KPUD’s 2010 share of that power is enough to power about 2,679 homes and provides about 9 percent of Klickitat PUD’s total annual load. 

McNary Stuff

In the early years, the power from the project was slightly more expensive than wholesale power from Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), but currently McNary power is coming in at less cost than BPA. This collaborative effort while being good for the environment also allows both PUD’s the flexibility to use their own low cost power while still using some BPA power.