Snohomish County PUD this week received permits to study five tidal energy sites in Puget Sound. The permits, issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), allow the PUD to conduct feasibility studies at the sites to determine their environmental and economic viability. The utility also may be required to obtain local and state permits to conduct these studies.
“We are pleased that FERC realizes our region’s fast growth and the need to continue to find new, renewable energy sources to meet increasing demand,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “Tidal energy is a clean and predictable resource that’s right in our backyard. Given the potential of this emission-free technology, we owe it to our customers to fully explore its feasibility in the Northwest.”
The sites that received FERC study permits are: Spieden Channel, San Juan Channel, Guemes Channel, Agate Passage, and Rich Passage. FERC has not yet issued permits for Admiralty Inlet and Deception Pass, sites that the PUD also applied with FERC to study.
Next steps include outreach and further education during this study phase. The study phase can take up to three years per the parameters of the permit.
During the initial study phase at the five sites, the PUD plans to conduct a series of studies that, among other things, will measure tidal flows in detail, examine the seabed floor, consider potential tidal devices, and determine how best to connect the energy source to the electrical grid. The study phase also will consider a range of environmental issues – such as impacts on marine life, shipping lanes and recreational areas – and mitigation strategies.
In addition to seeking feedback from local tribes, environmental groups and other interested organizations, the PUD plans to work with several partners during the study phase, including the University of Washington, the Electric Power Research Institute, and the Bonneville Power Administration.