Tidal energy turbines proposed near Whidbey Island

An effort to install two energy-generating turbines in waters off Whidbey Island received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Whidbey News-Times reported Sunday, March 23.

The pilot project is proposed by the Snohomish County Public Utility District. If it receives all necessary approvals, it could become the first attempt in the Puget Sound region to use tidal currents to generate electricity.

The turbines would be the central part of a effort to study tidal currents’ electricity generating potential. However, plans have proven contentious.

Several environmental groups, tribal governments and a company that owns the Pacific Crossing fiber-optic submarine cable system, which runs between the U.S. and Japan and would cross just a few hundred feet from the turbines’ proposed location, have opposed the project.

Here is a brief news article posted March 23 by the Whidbey News-Times, a partner publication of The Bellingham Business Journal:

Plans to install the first tidal turbines in the sea floor off Whidbey Island passed an important regulatory hurdle this week.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a license to the Snohomish County Public Utility District for the pilot project. If the PUD’s commissioners decide to go forward with the project, the turbines will be the first of its kind in Puget Sound.

The Island County hearing examiner, however, has yet to make a decision on appeals of permits granted to the PUD by the Island County planning department.

Craig Caller, an assistant general manager for the PUD, told the Whidbey News-Times last month that FERC had rejected the appeals and that the license would be issued shortly, which occurred Thursday.

Whidbey Environmental Action Network, the Tulalip Tribes, the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, PC Landing Corp. and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community filed motions to intervene.

WEAN was concerned about the on-land portion of the project, which could impact a scarce plant community.

Here are links to some related coverage from the Whidbey News-Times:

Cable, plants may trip up Admiralty Inlet turbine project

Hearings on turbine project start Thursday (March 6)

Snohomish County PUD seeks feds’ OK for Admiralty Inlet tidal project

Experimental tidal energy project moves ahead in Admiralty Inlet

Evan Marczynski, associate editor of The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or evan@bbjtoday.com.



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