Permit revs up tidal project

EVERETT – If tidal power is going to succeed in Puget Sound, the mother lode of potential is in Admiralty Inlet.

On Friday, Snohomish County PUD officials learned that they have locked up the rights to study developing tidal power in the inlet, which connects most of south Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean.

“It’s exciting because it’s so important,” said Craig Collar, senior manager of energy resources development at the PUD.

The utility beat out a competing application from the city of Port Townsend.

The feasibility permit, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Council, is the last of seven tidal permits sought by the PUD in the Puget Sound region.

The PUD estimates it could install 1,662 turbines at the seven locations, according to the utility’s filings with the federal government.

Together, the turbines would generate about 100 megawatts of electricity on average, enough for 60,000 homes – about every house and apartment in Mukilteo, Everett and Marysville.

The turbines would be like underwater windmills fixed to the seabed. Tidal currents would turn the turbines, and the natural energy would be converted into electricity.

An initial assessment shows that Admiralty Inlet could produce 75 megawatts of electricity, more than the potential identified at the other six sites together.

On March 1, the utility learned that it had received a permit to study tidal power at Deception Pass. In February, it was granted permits at Spieden and San Juan channels in the San Juan Islands, Guemes Channel near Anacortes, Agate Passage near Bainbridge Island, and Rich Passage near Bremerton.

The PUD is now ready to begin three years of testing on whether tidal power is right for the Puget Sound region, Collar said.

He said the utility aims to spend $330,000 launching feasibility studies at all seven sites, but that depends on getting a $250,000 grant from the Bonneville Power Administration. The utility hopes to hear back on that next week.

The PUD plans to work with the University of Washington and the California-based Electric Power Research Institute to measure tidal currents and refine estimates on how much electricity it could generate with tidal power.

The utility also plans to begin sorting out how the electricity would be delivered to customers.

Reporter Lukas Velush: 425-339-3449 or lvelush@heraldnet.com.

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