Olympic National Park: Proposed hydroelectric project raises eyebrows -April Fools” joke?

Amusement to exasperation to outright opposition — that's been the reaction to a man who says he's applied for a federal license to build a hydroelectric plant in Olympic National Park.

It's like an April Fools joke, said Tim McNulty of Sequim, an official in Olympic Park Associates, a support group for the park.

“It is the most preposterous idea I've ever heard of,” said McNulty.

“I'm surprised anyone took it seriously enough to apply to a federal agency.

“It is laughable. The project demonstrates a total misunderstanding of the nature of national parks.”

John Worthington, a 1981 Port Angeles High School graduate, says he has started a long Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing process for water use and water storage for hydroelectricity on Hoh Lake in the Seven Lakes Basin, below Bogachiel Peak in the park.

According to Worthington, the project would use wind power to pump water to upper elevations of Bogachiel Peak on the Hoh River's North Fork.

A meeting to gather public comment on the project is scheduled for noon, Aug. 9 at the Hoh River Tribal Center, 2464 Lower Hoh Road, Forks, according to Worthington.

If the project were built, Clallam County PUD would be one of the customers for the power it produced.

However, General Manager Mike McInnes questioned whether the project would get that far, given the considerable obstacles it faces.

“It is imaginative in its concept but the challenges are substantial,” McInnes said.

Who is John Worthington?

* He graduated from Port Angeles High School in 1981.

* He left the area 20 years ago to work in Seattle, first in the restaurant business, now as truck driver.

* He has no experience in designing or building a hydroelectric plant, but he envisions his proposal for Olympic National Park as an economic plus for the North Olympic Peninsula.

This full report appears in today's Peninsula News. Click onto “Subscribe” to order your PDN to be delivered to your home or office.

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