Snohomish County PUD’s pioneering research of tidal energy was aided this week with the approval of a Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations spending bill that would provide $500,000 in funding for the utility’s continued studies in the Puget Sound. The tidal project received strong support from U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The funding needs approval as part of the U.S. House of Representatives appropriations process.
"As energy prices continue to soar, it's more important than ever that we explore ways to harness renewable energy sources," said Senator Murray. “I'm excited by the possibilities of tidal energy generation and its potential benefits to customers across Snohomish County who deserve a break. 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.”
“Senator Murray continues to demonstrate her commitment to protecting the environment as well as promoting a healthy economy and jobs,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “These funds will go a long way toward the development of tidal energy, which will not only provide clean renewable energy, but could put the Northwest in a leadership position to attract new technology manufacturing and jobs. We’re excited to be at the forefront in developing this new technology – another tool to help us combat climate change.”
The PUD is studying seven tidal energy sites in the region, which, if developed, could produce enough energy for up to 70,000 homes. The utility launched a three-year research effort in 2007 to assess the technical, economic and environmental viability of the underwater sites.
PUD researchers note that tidal is a predictable, emission-free power source that can be tapped right in Western Washington. As the region grows, the utility wants to continue to focus on identifying renewable resources to help meet increased needs.
The PUD also is evaluating geothermal energy and other clean, renewable resources as part of its effort to meet growing energy needs through conservation and renewable energy. Initiative 937, passed by voters in fall 2006, requires utilities to obtain a greater share of their energy supply from green renewable sources in the coming years (15% of their supply by 2020).