Snohomish County PUD wins permits to study five tidal projects

Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1 will study the viability of five tidal energy project sites in Puget Sound totaling 18.9 MW.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued preliminary permits Feb. 22, giving the PUD the go-ahead to study the projects’ economic and environmental feasibility. The five projects are: 400-kW Agate Passage (No. 12691), 3.5-MW Guemes Channel (No. 12698), 1.4-MW Rich Passage (No. 12688), 5.3-MW San Juan Channel (No. 12692), and 8.3-MW Spieden Channel (No. 12689).

Snohomish County PUD said it plans to work with several partners during the study phase, which could take as long as three years. Partners include the University of Washington, the Electric Power Research Institute, and Bonneville Power Administration. It also plans to seek comments from local tribes, environmental groups, and other organizations.

The PUD said its studies will measure tidal flows in detail, examine the seabed floor, consider potential tidal devices, and determine how to best connect the energy source to the grid. The study phase also will consider environmental issues, such as effects on marine life, shipping lanes, and recreational areas, as well as mitigation strategies.

Preliminary permit applications filed by Snohomish County PUD are pending at FERC for two other projects: 22.5-MW Admiralty Inlet (No. 12690), and 6.2-MW Deception Pass (No. 12687). Competing applications for both of those projects are pending.

FERC has issued preliminary permits for at least 17 projects that would be powered by ocean waves, tidal energy, or currents, including the 50-MW Reedsport OPT Wave Park project (No. 12713) off the coast of Oregon. (HNN 2/27/07) FERC said about three dozen other applications are pending.

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