Spending bill includes funds for Washington tidal projects

A federal appropriations bill signed by President Obama includes $475,750 to support tidal energy projects proposed by Snohomish County Public Utility District off the coast of Washington.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., secured the funds, included in a $410 billion omnibus appropriations bill for the current fiscal year signed by the president March 11. (HydroWorld 3/11/09) Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., helped secure another $475,750 for the utility’s geothermal energy research.

Snohomish PUD said the funds represent vital support for its tidal energy and geothermal projects. Development and ongoing operation of its renewable energy projects, supported by the federal funding, could result in hundreds of construction, operations, and maintenance jobs, it said.

The utility is studying five tidal energy sites in Puget Sound, which, if developed, could produce enough energy for 70,000 homes. The utility launched a multi-year study in 2007 to assess the technical, economic, and environmental viability of the underwater sites. It said it plans to install a pilot project in the sound as early as 2011.

Snohomish PUD holds Federal Energy Regulatory Commission preliminary permits to study the feasibility of 22.5-MW Admiralty Inlet (No. 12690), 6.2-MW Deception Pass (No. 12687) 3.5-MW Guemes Channel (No. 12698), 5.3-MW San Juan Channel (No. 12692), and 8.3-MW Spieden Channel (No. 12689). (HNN 3/13/07) It held but later surrendered preliminary permits to study two other tidal projects, 400-kW Agate Passage (No. 12691) and 1.4-MW Rich Passage (No. 12688).

Snohomish PUD is working with several technical partners, including the University of Washington and the Electric Power Research Institute. In 2008, the Department of Energy provided a $1.2 million grant to the utility to support the tidal energy effort in Admiralty Inlet. (HNN 9/18/08)

“It’s more important than ever that we explore ways to harness renewable energy sources,” Murray said. “I’m excited by the possibilities of tidal energy generation and its potential benefits to customers across Snohomish County. I’m also pleased that Snohomish PUD is using this funding to go about exploring this technology in the right way — by being good stewards of the Puget Sound.”

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