Wells Dam is located at river mile 515.6 on the Columbia River in the state of Washington.

This location is approximately 30 river miles downstream from Chief Joseph Dam which is owned and operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the 42 miles upstream from Rocky Reach Dam owned and operated by Chelan County PUD.

The nearest town is Pateros, Washington, which is located approximately 8 miles upstream from Wells Dam.

The Wells Project is the primary generating resource for Douglas PUD. It includes ten generating units with an installed nameplate capacity of 774,300 kW (774.3 MW) and a peaking capacity of approximately 840 MW.

The design of the Wells Project is unique in that the generating units, spillways, switchyard and fish passage facilities are combined into a single structure referred to as the hydrocombine.


Construction of the project began in the fall of 1963 and commercial operation began on September 1, 1967. The initial design and license for the project called for the construction of seven turbine generating units.

On February 2, 1965, the Federal Power Commission (predecessor to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission FERC) approved an application to amend the original license to include three additional generating units. The three additional units began commercial operation on January 24, 1969.

In 1963, Douglas PUD entered into at cost power sales contracts with four purchasers to sell 62% of the output from the Wells Project through August 31, 2018.

The District negotiated new 10-year contracts with Puget Sound Energy, Inc., Portland General Electric, and Avista effective September 1, 2018.  Certain obligations from the legacy contract remain in place, primarily with respect to the Colville Tribes and Okanogan PUD’s share of output, which allocate 5.5% of the Wells Project output to the Tribes, and currently 10% to Okanogan PUD, both at cost.

These 10-year contractual commitments to the three named purchasers are predominantly fixed price contracts, though total compensation depends on annual hydro volume. Expected compensation exceeds the cost of production at Wells. Additional output contracts with Avista and Portland General Electric, terminating at the end of 2023 and 2025, respectively, provide additional value to the District’s customer owners.