Avista’s two largest hydroelectric dams are located on the Clark Fork River in Idaho and Montana. The Clark Fork Hydroelectric Project
consists of Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids dams, and produces about 80 percent of Avista’s hydro power and half of our total power. As of this year, the project has been providing clean, renewable electricity to customers for a half-century.
This year marks two big milestones for the project – the 50th anniversary of the first power generated at Noxon Rapids Dam, and the 10th anniversary of the Clark Fork Settlement Agreement.
A little history
Avista, then Washington Water Power, began construction of Noxon Rapids Dam in 1956, after completing Cabinet Gorge a few miles downstream in 1953. The construction of Noxon Rapids was a boon to the economy of Sanders County, Montana, and the surrounding area, and Noxon Rapids began generating its first power on July 7, 1959. A dedication ceremony in 1960 drew a crowd of thousands to the tiny community of Noxon, Montana.
The Clark Fork Settlement Agreement, a multi-stakeholder agreement about how to manage and protect the natural resources of the area, was signed in 1999 after several years of collaboration, and resulted in the Clark Fork Project license. This single license to operate both Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids took effect March 1, 2001, in an unprecedented issuance of the license by FERC a year before the existing Cabinet Gorge license expired.
We’ve been marking these milestones throughout the year with a variety of activities, and over the next few weeks the commemoration will ramp up even more. This Saturday, September 12, Avista will host a charity golf tournament in Thompson Falls to benefit Sanders County Community Housing Authority, a non-profit agency that promotes the availability of affordable housing to residents of Sanders County and offers weatherization and home repair programs for low-income, elderly and disabled home owners. We will also hold a re-dedication and community celebration of Noxon Rapids on October 1.
All of our activities emphasize Avista’s commitment to community, environment, and collaboration in our operations on the Clark Fork.