Koma Kulshan Project

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Koma Kulshan Hydroelectric Project
Koma Kulshan Project map.jpg
Image of project on Mount Baker as seen from space: red dot is powerhouse, green dot is dam(s). Bellingham on the upper left side of frame, Lake Shannon on lower right.
Koma Kulshan Project is located in Washington (state)
Koma Kulshan Project
Location of Koma Kulshan Hydroelectric Project in Washington (state)
Official name Koma Kulshan Project
Country United States
Location Mount Baker National Forest in Whatcom County, Washington
Coordinates 48°40′49″N 121°43′24″W / 48.6802°N 121.7233°W / 48.6802; -121.7233Coordinates: 48°40′49″N 121°43′24″W / 48.6802°N 121.7233°W / 48.6802; -121.7233
Purpose Hydroelectricity
Status Operational
Construction began 1989[1]
Opening date October 1990
Owner(s) Covanta Energy and Atlantic Power
Operator(s) Puget Sound Energy
Dam and spillways
Impounds Sulphur Creek, Rocky Creek
Height Rocky Creek Dam: 32 feet (9.8 m)
Sulphur Creek Dam: 37 feet (11 m)
Length Rocky Creek Dam: 18 feet (5.5 m)
Sulphur Creek Dam: 15 feet (4.6 m)
Koma Kulshan powerhouse
Coordinates 48°40′49″N 121°43′24″W / 48.6802°N 121.7233°W / 48.6802; -121.7233
Operator(s) Puget Sound Energy
Commission date 1990
Type Run-of-the-river
Hydraulic head c. 1,600 ft (490 m)
Turbines 1 x Sulzer Escher Wyss Pelton wheel
Installed capacity 13.3 MW @ maximum flow 120 cu ft/s (3.4 m3/s)
Capacity factor 38.6% (2009-2010)[2]
Annual generation 45,000,000 kWh (10/1/2009–9/30/2010[2])

The Koma Kulshan Project is a 13.3 MW run-of-the-river hydroelectric generation facility on the slopes of Mount Baker, a stratovolcano in Washington state's North Cascades. The project commenced commercial operation in October 1990,[3][4][5] and is owned by a Covanta EnergyAtlantic Power joint venture. It supplies Puget Sound Energy via a Power Supply Agreement (PSA) contract.[3][6] Its single turbine is a Pelton wheel supplied by Sulzer Escher Wyss.[7]

Located in the Mount Baker National Forest, it is one of six Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-licensed small hydro installations on Federal Government land in Washington state.[8][9]

Koma Kulshan is the name of Mount Baker in the Lummi dialect.[10]:241


Intakes are located at diversion dams on the Rocky Creek and Sulphur Creek tributaries of Lake Shannon. A 42–45-inch (1,100–1,100 mm) diameter, 19,250-foot (5,870 m) long penstock carries water from a bifurcation (48°41′29″N 121°47′31″W / 48.6914°N 121.7919°W / 48.6914; -121.7919 (Penstock head), 2,750 feet (840 m) a.s.l.) to the powerhouse.[11] Water is discharged from the powerhouse through a short run on Sandy Creek to Baker Lake.[9][8][12][13] Up to 120 cubic feet per second (3.4 m3/s) is diverted to the powerhouse.[14][15]:3–16

Rocky Creek Dam (48°41′06″N 121°48′23″W / 48.6849°N 121.8065°W / 48.6849; -121.8065 (Rocky Creek diversion dam)) is 18 feet (5.5 m) high, 32 feet (9.8 m) long at 2,770 feet (840 m) a.s.l.[11]

Sulphur Creek Dam (48°41′34″N 121°47′34″W / 48.6928°N 121.7928°W / 48.6928; -121.7928 (Sulphur Creek diversion dam)) is 15 feet (4.6 m) high, 37 feet (11 m) long at 2,755 feet (840 m) a.s.l.[11]

Diversion of the creek affected the appearance of Upper and Middle Sulphur Creek Falls.[16][17]

Peak generation[edit]

Power generation peaks in May through July coinciding with snowmelt, and has a smaller peak in November coinciding with the wet season.[2]


  1. ^ Burkardt, Nina (April 1995). "Technical Clarity in Inter-Agency Negotiations: Lessons From Four Hydropower Projects" (PDF). Water Resources Bulletin. American Water Resources Association. 31 (2): 188–189. doi:10.1111/j.1752-1688.1995.tb03372.x. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Power generation statement, Koma Kulshan Associates, October 22, 2010 – via FERC
  3. ^ a b "Koma Kulshan". Atlantic Power Corporation. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  4. ^ Renewable Resources Development Report California Energy Commission, State of California, November 2003, principal authors: Ann Peterson, Pamela Doughman, Todd Lieberg
  5. ^ Northwest Regional Forecast of Power Loads and Resources August 2007 – July 2017 (PDF), Portland, Oregon: Pacific Northwest Utilities Conference Committee (PNUCC), April 2007 – via efsec.wa.gov
  6. ^ Covanta Energy sustainability report 2009/2010
  7. ^ Christopher Bergesen (ed.), "Kulshan site", Power Plants Around the World (Website), Bethesda, Maryland, retrieved 2015-07-08
  8. ^ a b Micro hydro at Virtual Nuclear Tourist
  9. ^ a b Koma Kulshan site, Global Energy Observatory, c. 2006
  10. ^ Bright, William (2004), Native American Placenames of the United States, University of Oklahoma Press, ISBN 9780806135984
  11. ^ a b c Amended license, FERC, April 25, 1990
  12. ^ Water quality certification, Koma Kulshan project (PDF), Washington Department of Ecology, September 16, 1986
  13. ^ Site map, Hydrokinetics, September 8, 1980 – via FERC. Note: Site map shows two unbuilt diversion dams on Dillard Creek and Sandy Creek, and does not match as-built configuration of penstock.
  14. ^ Koma Kulshan Hydroelectric Project average annual flows for the period 10/1/10 to 9/30/11, Koma Kulshan Associates, December 14, 2011 – via FERC
  15. ^ Initial Consultation Document: Baker River Project, FERC No.2150, Existing Conditions (PDF), Puget Sound Energy
  16. ^ Bryan Swan, "Upper Sulphur Creek Falls", Northwest Waterfall Survey, retrieved 2015-07-08
  17. ^ Bryan Swan, "Middle Sulphur Creek Falls", Northwest Waterfall Survey, retrieved 2015-07-08

Further reading[edit]

  • Beth A.K. Coughlan, Nina Burkardt, and David Fulton (November 1993), "Assessing the "need to negotiate" in ferc licensing consultations: A study of two hydropower projects", Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 13 (6), pp. 331–351, doi:10.1016/0195-9255(93)90002-S
  • Vassilia Angelaki and Jonathan M. Harbor (1995), "IMPACTS OF FLOW DIVERSION FOR SMALL HYDROELECTRIC POWER PLANTS ON SEDIMENT TRANSPORT, NORTHWEST WASHINGTON", Physical Geography, 16 (5): 432–443, doi:10.1080/02723646.1995.10642564

External links[edit]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX