WA hydroelectric redevelopment project wins ACEC Engineering Excellence Gold Award

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SEATTLE, WA, Feb. 1, 2014 -- The American Council of Engineering Companies, Washington Chapter (ACEC-WA) recently honored Kleinfelder, an architecture, engineering and science consulting firm, with the Gold Award for Social, Economic, and Sustainable Development for the redevelopment of Snoqualmie Falls Hydropower Plant in Snoqualmie, Wash. 

Kleinfelder received the award for demonstrating advanced technical expertise throughout the three-year, $200-million redevelopment of the landmark facility. The project included renovation of a 116-year-old power-generating infrastructure, preservation of six historical buildings, and development of major recreational site enhancements.

The Snoqualmie Falls Hydropower Plant 1, owned and operated by Puget Sound Energy, is the world's first completely underground powerhouse. Built and carved using hand drills and explosives in 1898, the powerhouse is located in a cavern only accessible via a vertical 294-foot shaft. In 1910, a second, larger power-generation system was built on the Snoqualmie River, below the falls. The hydroelectric plants are considered historically significant because they were instrumental in introducing alternating current electricity to the world.

Built and carved using hand drills and explosives in 1898, the Snoqualmie Falls Hydropower Plant 1 is located in a cavern only accessible via a vertical 294-foot shaft. (Photo credit:

Project work included demolition and redevelopment of the original subsurface powerhouse and second larger powerhouse, water intake structures, multiple water conveyance systems, and a low-head diversion dam. The project also included construction of a site museum, interpretive center, viewing areas and park facilities, shoreline restoration and protection, and restoration of six historical register buildings.

A museum, interpretive center, viewing areas and park facilities are now available to nearly two million annual visitors. Aside from providing a place for visitors to enjoy the falls, the project now provides clean power for some 40,000 households. "For Puget Sound Energy, the challenge was to ensure that the plant continued to provide clean, renewable power, protect the historic structures, and ensure that visitors can enjoy the falls and surrounding environment while meeting an accelerated 36-month schedule," said Rick Della, senior project manager.

The award was presented during the 2014 Engineering Excellence Awards Gala on January 24 in Bellevue, Wash. Kleinfelder provided construction management services including comprehensive quality assurance, geotechnical and rock engineering support, materials engineering and testing, and a number of quality-control services. According to ACEC-WA, projects are judged on four criteria: exceeding client expectations; social, economic, or sustainable design considerations; originality; and complexity.

About Kleinfelder

Kleinfelder is an employee-owned architecture, engineering, and science consulting firm providing solutions to meet our world's complex infrastructure and natural resource challenges. A global firm with nearly 2,000 employee-owners, Kleinfelder provides planning, engineering, scientific, technical and management solutions. For more information, visit www.kleinfelder.com.


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