While wind is currently the most viable option for renewable power for many utilities in Washington state, the majority of sites are in eastern Washington, far from the Puget Sound area. This means that access to wind power requires the use of an already constrained transmission system, and the long transmission lines from eastern Washington result in significant line losses. Expanding the transmission system would require hundreds of miles of expensive and intrusive transmission line – lines that are vulnerable to wind/snow and other natural and man-made disasters. In addition, integrating intermittent and largely unpredictable wind energy into the electrical grid presents significant challenges.
While wind energy will continue to remain an important part of the region’s renewable portfolio, other promising forms of renewable energy may exist in our own backyard. The State of Washington is a coastal state and, together with the tidal activity of Puget Sound, we have the opportunity to explore a variety of wave and tidal opportunities. Having a clean, renewable, and predictable source of energy in the Puget Sound area that could be connected directly into our shared local grid could provide many environmental, operational, and economic benefits.