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Tidal: Press Releases

  • PUD Tidal Project Not to Advance
    9/30/2014

    PUD will no longer pursue the Admiralty Inlet Pilot Tidal Project

     

    Rising Costs, Limited Funding for Project

    Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) today announced it will no longer pursue its pilot tidal energy research project in Admiralty Inlet, west of Whidbey Island.

    “The PUD and its funding partners have worked for years to get regulatory clarity regarding the requirements and associated costs to enable a well-informed decision,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “After eight years in the federal, state and local permitting process and a decision by the U.S. Department of Energy to not share the rising costs of the next stage of the project, we cannot justify going forward. The tidal project, however, remains worthwhile to pursue on behalf of the nation to further the potential development of marine renewable energy.”

    According to the PUD, the requirements became more onerous than expected for a temporary research project.

    “Our Board and the citizens we serve, have challenged us to find new cost effective sources of renewable energy with a focus on our own backyard, and tidal power was a potential source that deserved our full and diligent consideration,” added Klein.

    The tidal project has not relied on ratepayer funding, but instead funding has come primarily from federal-based grants and in-kind contributions from various partners. Some additional funding came from the sale of excess renewable energy credits (environmental attributes) from the PUD’s wind power projects. The research has been a partnership with several contributing participants, including the Department of Energy (DOE), the University of Washington (UW), the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and OpenHydro, a tidal energy equipment manufacturing company.

    The PUD filed its first preliminary permits with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in June 2006.  The project was intended to further the DOE’s knowledge – and that of the nation – regarding tidal energy, and it was to be sited in Puget Sound for three to five years and then removed.  For the past eight years the tidal power project team has recorded baseline conditions on the sea floor, performed numerous studies, designed complex environmental monitoring and installation plans, filed reports with state and federal agencies, submitted documentation and responded to a broad variety of legal and resource agency challenges.

    Initial site preparation was slated to begin in 2015. The PUD was at the stage of soliciting the final bids to move forward with the construction of the project at the time it received notice from the DOE that the federal agency would not increase its shared expenses for the research project.

    Over the past several years, the cost of the materials needed to eventually build the project has risen and various entities have mandated an increasing amount of studies and monitoring requirements beyond installation of the tidal turbines. These have all contributed to an increase in the estimated cost for the next stage of the research project.  The DOE had originally accepted responsibility for at least 50 percent of the cost of the project; this support was tied to a fixed dollar amount at a time when the final requirements and costs were undefined.  Since then, the costs have increased and the DOE was unwilling to contribute more funds to maintain its proportionate share.

    While the project will not move forward without additional research partner funds, a great deal of value has been derived from the study process over the past eight years.  The University of Washington developed numerous underwater monitoring devices that have application to a variety of ocean related activities.  In addition, much of the work has been focused on the baseline conditions of the sea floor and related usage by various fish and marine mammals. This data has greatly enhanced the collective knowledge of the environment and species that inhabit Puget Sound. The results have helped inform tidal energy researchers worldwide.

    The PUD has acted as a national leader in the research and development of renewable energy sources. The majority of its energy comes from clean, renewable BPA hydropower. Other renewable sources include wind energy, hundreds of customer-installed solar units, a biomass project fueled by wood-waste, biogas facilities tapping landfill gas and cow manure, and smaller hydropower projects in Sultan and Monroe. The utility has researched a diverse mix of other sources, including tidal and geothermal, as well as energy storage alternatives.

  • Federal License Issued for Snohomish PUD Tidal Project in Puget Sound
    3/20/2014

    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Approves Tidal Project Unanimously

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted unanimously today to issue a license to Snohomish County Public Utility District for a tidal energy pilot project in Admiralty Inlet, west of Whidbey Island, Wash. The project – the first grid-connected array of large-scale tidal energy turbines in the world – includes installation, operation and evaluation of two turbines at a depth of about 200 feet. The utility plans to move forward on contractual agreements, construction and deployment over the next two years. The turbines would be installed for a period of three to five years.

    In issuing the license, FERC commissioners commended the PUD for its diligence in securing the license and for its extensive studies and public engagement. It noted the PUD’s license plans to protect fish, wildlife, cultural and aesthetic resources, navigation and existing infrastructure in Puget Sound.

    “The Admiralty Inlet project is an innovative attempt to harness previously untapped energy resources,” said Acting FERC Chairman Cheryl LeFleur.

    “Anyone who has spent time on the waters of Puget Sound understands the power inherent in the tides,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “In granting this license, the FERC acknowledges the vigilant efforts of the PUD and its partners to test the viability of a new reliable source of clean energy while at the same time ensuring the protection of the environment and existing uses.”

    The proposed tidal turbines are manufactured by OpenHydro (Dublin, Ireland). Each turbine measures 6 meters in diameter, with a 414-ton total weight. The foundation is secured by gravity only (no piling or pinning needed).  The turbines have only one moving part and require no lubricating oils or greases. Subsea cables will connect to shore on PUD-leased land south of the Coupeville Ferry Terminal, where it will connect to the electrical grid.

    Admiralty Inlet offers attractive features, including swift currents, good access, a rocky seabed floor with little sediment and vegetation, and viable grid connections. The inlet is a very large body of water, which makes the footprint of the pilot plant small by comparison and helps to minimize any impacts.

    As part of its FERC license application, the PUD has addressed a broad range of issues, such as the pilot project’s design, operation, environmental studies, monitoring plans and biological assessments. During its public process, the utility also engaged numerous stakeholders, including local, state and federal agencies, tribal groups, business organizations and residents.

    The PUD has worked with many technical partners on project studies covering areas such as acoustics, underwater topography (bathymetry), marine life, underwater monitoring, geotechnical data and water quality. Partners have included the University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Sound & Sea Technology and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The pilot project has been supported with grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, Bonneville Power Administration and federal appropriations.

    OpenHydro projects in other parts of the world have shown no impact on marine life. Scotland’s Orkney Islands (another OpenHydro site) have an ecologically diverse and productive marine ecosystem that is home to numerous fish species, shellfish, dolphins, seals, porpoises, whales and migrating turtles. Operations at the site have been continuously videotaped, and no marine life incidents have been recorded. OpenHydro’s experience has been that fish and marine mammals do not interact with the tidal device.

  • Dept. of Energy Awards $10 Million to Snohomish PUD Tidal Project
    9/9/2010

    Funding Recognizes Utility’s Leadership in Clean Energy Development

    Snohomish County Public Utility District’s forward-looking tidal energy research was strengthened this week by $10 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The funds will support a pilot project in which two OpenHydro turbines will be deployed in Admiralty Inlet west of Whidbey Island, Wash. The PUD is actively researching the renewable energy source to meet the needs of one of the fastest growing areas in the Pacific Northwest.

    “This funding bolsters our efforts to operate and evaluate tidal energy technology in the Puget Sound in order to assess its technical, economic, and environmental feasibility,” said PUD Board of Commissioners President Toni Olson. “We’re excited to be leading the way in the research of this innovative energy source – another tool to help us and the nation combat climate change and attain energy independence. We greatly appreciate the support of members of the Northwest Congressional delegation to help us secure this funding.”

    The funding for the PUD was the largest in the country, along with a project in Maine, designated by DOE for accelerating the development of marine and hydrokinetic technologies. The agency awarded a total of $37 million to projects around the country for generating clean, cost-competitive renewable electricity from the nation's oceans and free-flowing rivers and streams.

    Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) has been a strong advocate for tidal energy, as evidenced by his leadership in funding for marine hydrokinetic programs at DOE.

    “Oceans hold the potential to become an unlimited supply of baseload renewable energy,” said Rep. Inslee. “Critical research and development is being done right now to harness this energy in the Puget Sound.  Snohomish PUD is truly a pioneer in pursuing this innovative technology, and I congratulate them for winning this hard-earned award today, which is a significant victory for Washington state and the future of renewable clean energy across the country.”

    “To create jobs in Washington state we have to invest in ingenuity in Washington state,” said Senator Murray. “Snohomish PUD is on the cutting edge of clean energy research and development, such as marine and hydrokinetic power. I will continue to fight to ensure our state is leading the charge toward a clean energy economy.”

    Sen. Patty Murray has also strongly supported the research and development of renewable energy in Washington state.

    The PUD plans to install the tidal energy turbines in Admiralty Inlet as soon as 2012. It will work with OpenHydro to design, build and install the turbines. OpenHydro has operated similar devices in other parts of the world since 2006, including Scotland’s Orkney Islands. Tidal energy is a cost-effective resource that can be integrated into the electrical grid without requiring hundreds of miles of new transmission lines.

    The PUD has actively studied several sites in the Puget Sound, which, if developed, could produce enough energy for tens of thousands of homes. The utility launched its research effort in 2007, working with several technical partners, including the University of Washington, the Electric Power Research Institute, the National Renewable Energy Lab and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Marine Sciences Laboratory.

    The PUD also is proactively researching and securing other clean, renewable resources – such as geothermal, wind and solar – 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).

    For information about the PUD’s tidal energy research and development, visit our website area on tidal power.

  • PUD Testifies on Tidal Energy Before U.S. Congressional Committee
    12/3/2009

    NW Utility in Spotlight for Renewable Energy Research

    Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) today served as one of the key witnesses speaking before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, which is exploring the huge potential for harnessing energy from waves, tidal flows, and ocean and river currents. The PUD plans to deploy a tidal energy pilot plant in the Puget Sound as early as 2011.

    Craig Collar, the PUD’s Senior Manager for Energy Resource Development, shared information about the utility’s tidal energy research efforts at five sites in the Puget Sound. The PUD has emerged as one of the nation’s leaders in the research and development of this green energy resource. It has secured more than $2.5 million for its research efforts from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Bonneville Power Administration and other federal appropriations.

    “We believe that tidal energy has the potential to contribute significantly as part of a richly diversified clean energy portfolio,” said Collar. “As we assess the technical, economic and environmental viability of ocean energy generation, the most effective means to gather data is through the responsible deployment, testing and monitoring of utility-scale ocean energy devices. Successful tidal energy demonstration projects in the Puget Sound may enable significant commercial development, resulting in important benefits for the Pacific Northwest and the country as we look to increase our use of clean, renewable energy resources.”

    During today’s hearing, Collar was joined by witnesses from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Electric Power Research Institute, and two energy companies, Ecomerit Technologies, LLC and Natel Energy, Inc.

    “The Department of Energy (DOE) believes that marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies have significant potential to contribute to the nation’s future supply of clean, cost-effective, renewable energy,” said Jacques Beaudry-Losique, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy for DOE. “As one of the most promising areas in the country for the development of tidal energy, the Puget Sound in Washington State is currently home to a number of projects being funded by the Department.”

    Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) opened the subcommittee hearing, recognizing the PUD’s contributions to tidal energy research in Washington state.

    “Studies have estimated that approximately 10 percent of U.S. national electricity demand may be met through energy generation from river in-stream sites, tidal in-stream sites and wave generation,” said Rep. Baird. “I am glad we have a representative of Snohomish here with us today so we can hear about this project (in Puget Sound) which is expected to begin operation as early as 2011.”

    The PUD is studying five tidal energy sites in the Puget Sound, which, if developed, could produce enough energy for up to 70,000 homes. The utility launched a comprehensive study in 2007 to assess the technical, economic and environmental viability of the underwater sites.

    The utility’s tidal studies have been bolstered through several technical partnerships, including with the University of Washington, the Electric Power Research Institute, the National Renewable Energy Lab and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine Sciences Laboratory. The utility also is partnering with several organizations on a DOE-funded study of killer whales, sea lions, harbor porpoises and other aquatic life in the Puget Sound. The research is being supported by work from the Sea Mammal Research Unit, Beam Reach Marine Science and Sustainability School, the Whale Museum and the Orca Network.

    The PUD has made a commitment to meeting future customer growth through conservation and a diverse mix of renewable energy sources. Tidal energy and other “backyard” resources help lower construction costs, create jobs in Snohomish County and reduce environmental impacts of long transmission lines. In addition to its tidal energy research, the PUD is actively researching the potential for geothermal energy in Western Washington. Its green energy portfolio also includes wind, solar, biomass, landfill gas and low-impact hydropower.

  • Dept. of Energy Awards $600K for Aquatic Species Study In Support of PUD Tidal Energy Pilot in Puget Sound
    9/16/2009

    NW Utility & Partners Gain Additional Funding for Tidal Energy Research

    The U.S. Department of Energy has announced it will fund $600,000 for a study of aquatic species in Admiralty Inlet, Wash., to help determine potential effects of tidal energy turbines on aquatic life in the Puget Sound. The study, part of a multi-year tidal energy research effort by Snohomish County Public Utility District, will be supported by the University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Sea Mammal Research Unit. The PUD is one of the country’s leaders in tidal energy research and development.

    “The marine renewable award to Snohomish County PUD that was announced today is further proof of our nation’s commitment to clean, renewable energy, to clean jobs, and to protection of the environment,” said U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee. "The grant will allow Snohomish County PUD and the Pacific Northwest to become world leaders in state-of-the-art marine renewable technology.”

    “Washington state is well positioned to lead the way in hydropower technology and these awards will help our state remain on the cutting edge of this growing industry,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray. “This funding will create good jobs in Washington state, provide a boost to the economy, and will help our environment by reducing harmful greenhouse emissions.”

    “This is great news for the Snohomish County PUD, as well as the entire state of Washington,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said. “Our state has been a leader in the emerging clean-energy economy, and this funding ensures we maintain that leading edge. I am delighted that Washington state is taking yet another step to reduce our need for foreign oil, while creating good jobs in our communities.”

    The study will help determine the types of aquatic species present in the tidal project area and how they’re using the habitat, just west of Whidbey Island, Wash. It will measure baseline levels of background noise, the acoustic footprint of tidal turbines and the potential effects acoustic signals have on aquatic organisms. Acoustic simulations will be conducted in the Puget Sound, followed by a series of laboratory studies.

    “We applaud the Department of Energy for funding this critical study in Puget Sound, and acknowledge the continued support from the Northwest Congressional delegation and Governor Gregoire to advance renewable energy sources,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “Tidal energy and other new technologies help reduce our country’s dependence on fossil fuels, create green jobs for the Northwest and keep us competitive in the world race to research and develop renewable energy.”

    “The study data will be useful not just for tidal energy, but also for better understanding how fish and marine mammals use Admiralty Inlet," said Brian Polagye, research assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Washington. "We will be investigating the acoustic footprint of the tidal energy pilot project, which is an important environmental consideration for this site.”

    The PUD is studying five tidal energy sites in the Puget Sound, which, if developed, could produce enough energy for up to 70,000 homes. The utility launched a comprehensive study in 2007 to assess the technical, economic and environmental viability of the underwater sites. It plans to install a pilot project in the sound as early as 2011.

    With the announcement of the DOE grant, the PUD has now received $2.5 million in federal funding to support its tidal energy research in Puget Sound.

    The PUD has made a commitment to meeting future customer growth through conservation and a diverse mix of renewable energy sources. Tidal energy and other “backyard” resources help lower construction costs, create jobs in Snohomish County and reduce environmental impacts of long transmission lines. In addition to its tidal energy research, the PUD is actively researching the potential for geothermal energy in Western Washington. Its green energy portfolio also includes wind, solar, biomass, landfill gas and low-impact hydropower.

  • Snohomish PUD Selects Technology for Tidal Energy Pilot Plant
    4/14/2009

    Snohomish County Public Utility District today announced it will work with OpenHydro, an Irish technology company, to design, build and install up to three marine turbines at a tidal energy pilot plant in Admiralty Inlet, west of Whidbey Island.

    The pilot project, expected to begin operation as early as 2011, will produce up to 1 megawatt of energy, enough to serve about 700 homes. The tidal devices are currently intended to be connected to subsea electrical cable and fed to existing transmission lines near the Keystone Ferry terminal on Whidbey Island.

    “We’re thrilled to partner with OpenHydro to develop a clean, emission-free energy source that has the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting our region’s growing energy needs,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “Tidal energy can be sited right here in Western Washington and easily integrated into our existing electrical system without requiring hundreds of miles of new transmission lines.”

    “OpenHydro’s vision is to develop arrays of tidal turbines, silently and invisibly generating renewable energy under the world's oceans,” said James Ives, Chief Executive, OpenHydro. “This is a significant contract for our business and it marks a further step toward achieving that goal. We truly believe that tidal energy has the potential to make a considerable contribution towards meeting the PUD’s 2020 renewable energy targets and we are extremely excited to be working with such a visionary partner.”

    In the next two years, the PUD will focus on finalizing its engineering plans and obtaining permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other state and federal agencies. In addition, it will conduct a series of studies to better assess tidal flows, seabed composition, fish and marine mammal presence, cable routes, interconnection options and a range of other issues.

    Tidal Technology Deployment:

    During the pilot project, the PUD will conduct in-water testing and monitoring to address issues related to tidal turbine performance, cost and environmental effects.

    The PUD will place up to three horizontal axis tidal devices on the seabed floor approximately one kilometer west of Admiralty Head on Whidbey Island. Installation of the turbines will not require any drilling or piling operations on the seabed. The turbines will be positioned outside of the main shipping channel and ferry routes, will be completely submerged, and will allow for over 80 feet of overhead navigational clearance. The tidal generators measure 50 feet in height and can spin either way depending on the direction of the tides. No oils or lubricants are required for operation.

    OpenHydro, based in Dublin, Ireland, has operated similar devices in other parts of the world since 2006. In May 2008, OpenHydro became the first company to complete the connection of a tidal turbine onto the UK national grid. More recently OpenHydro became the first company to deploy a free standing tidal turbine directly onto the sea-bed at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, Scotland. The turbines are being constructed at the company’s technical design and assembly centre in Greenore, Co Louth, Ireland.

    Videotaped monitoring at the Scotland site has indicated no impact on fish and marine mammals in a region that is prized for its ecological diversity and sustainment of numerous fish species, shellfish, dolphins, porpoises and whales.

    OpenHydro cites several advantages of generating electricity using its Open-Centre turbine technology including:

    • The electricity produced is completely renewable since it relies on tidal currents that are created by the gravitational effect of the sun and moon on the world’s oceans.
    • Whereas other forms of renewable energy are dependent on the weather conditions (such as the amount of wind or a clear sky), tidal energy is completely predictable, giving the electricity produced a premium value.
    • Since the turbines are located beneath the surface, they are protected from storm damage and cannot be seen or heard.
    • The design is considered to have no impact on marine mammals since it has no oils which can leak, no exposed blade tips and a significant opening at its center.
    • Due to the density of water, a relatively small turbine can produce the same power as a much larger wind turbine.

    To view an animation of an open hydro turbine, click here and then click on the Tidal Technology Animation video.

  • Federal Appropriations Funds Coming to Snohomish PUD for Tidal and Geothermal Energy Research
    3/12/2009

    Utility Nets Nearly $1 Million for Green Power

    Snohomish County PUD gained vital support this week for geothermal and tidal energy projects as President Obama signed a spending bill that will provide $951,500 in funding for research and development of these renewable energy sources in Western Washington. The tidal energy project was backed by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), while Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) helped secure funding for geothermal energy research. Each project will receive $475,750. The funding comes as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, approved by the U.S. Senate this week.

    The development and ongoing operation of these renewable energy projects, supported by the federal funding, could result in hundreds of construction and permanent operations and maintenance jobs in the Pacific Northwest.

    “Snohomish PUD’s work to generate power from Puget Sound tides has already made this region a leader in clean electricity generation,” said Rep. Jay Inslee. “Geothermal and marine renewable energy both have great potential for clean energy production and job creation in Washington State.  I’m proud to support this new geothermal study, as it will help further diversify our regional clean energy supplies, while spurring the economy and benefiting local ratepayers.”

    “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. 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.”

    The PUD’s increasing focus on renewable energy sources is driven by its commitment to reducing climate change, promoting greater energy independence and encouraging local renewable energy generation.

    “We applaud the efforts of Rep. Inslee and Sen. Murray in bringing critical support to our region for these green, locally-generated resources,” said Snohomish County PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “As our region continues to grow, we remain committed to meeting customer needs through a diverse mix of renewable technologies and an aggressive set of conservation initiatives. This funding also will help provide long-term economic and environmental benefits to the citizens of the Northwest.”

    The PUD is studying five tidal energy sites in the Puget Sound, which, if developed, could produce enough energy for up to 70,000 homes. The utility launched a multi-year study in 2007 to assess the technical, economic and environmental viability of the underwater sites.  It plans to install a pilot project in the sound as early as 2011. The utility is working with several technical partners, including the University of Washington and the Electric Power Research Institute. In 2008, the utility received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to support the tidal energy effort.

    The PUD has completed an initial assessment of geothermal resources in Western Washington, and is currently developing the next phases of its exploration and development plan. Geothermal energy holds considerable promise as a significant resource for future energy supplies in the Northwest. If developed it could provide enough energy for nearly 65,000 homes by 2020. Geothermal energy is a well-understood technology that’s consistent, predictable and a major energy source in other parts of the world.  Both geothermal and tidal development are projected to result in hundreds of additional green jobs in the Pacific Northwest in the coming years.

    Geothermal energy produces energy by capturing the heat from the Earth – in the form of hot water or steam – and extracts it to drive a turbine and generate electricity. It’s a power source that’s clean, safe, has the potential to be generated locally and carries minimal environmental impacts.

    The PUD is actively pursuing the development of geothermal and tidal energy and other resources as part of its effort to meet growing energy needs through conservation and renewable energy. Initiative 937, passed by voters in fall 2006, also 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).

  • Dept. of Energy Awards $1.2 Million for Snohomish PUD Tidal Studies
    9/18/2008

    National Funding Recognizes Utility’s Leadership in Innovative Energy Sources

    Snohomish County PUD’s pioneering tidal energy research was further bolstered this week by $1.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for additional studies in the Puget Sound. The utility is actively researching the renewable energy source to meet the needs of one of the fastest growing areas in the Pacific Northwest. Tidal energy is a predictable, emission-free power source that can be tapped right in Western Washington. 

    The PUD study is one of 14 clean technology water power projects funded by the DOE, totaling $7.3 million. The University of Washington (UW) and Oregon State University (OSU) also received funding to develop the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center.  (See attached fact sheet.)

    “This funding will allow the PUD to carefully evaluate the technical, economic, and environmental feasibility of tidal energy production in the region,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “We’re excited to be at the forefront in developing this new technology – another tool to help us and the nation combat climate change and attain energy independence. It also helps us fulfill requirements under Washington’s renewable portfolio standard. We’re pleased DOE chose to fund additional research of this clean renewable energy source.”

    “The Department of Energy is aggressively pursuing the development of next-generation technologies that are capable of producing renewable energy to add to our nation’s diverse energy portfolio,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy John Mizroch said. “Wave, tidal, and current-driven hydro power is an important clean, natural, and domestic energy source that will promote energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

    “This is exactly the kind of research into domestic energy supplies that we need,” Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said. “It is terrific to see Snohomish PUD taking the lead in creating this partnership to explore tidal energy.”

    The PUD is studying seven tidal energy sites in the Puget Sound, which, if developed, could produce enough energy for up to 70,000 homes.  The utility launched a three-year research effort last year to assess the viability of the underwater sites. The PUD is working with several technical partners, including the University of Washington, the Electric Power Research Institute, the National Renewable Energy Lab and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Marine Sciences Laboratory as part of its study plan.

    “As energy prices continue to soar, it's more important than ever that we explore ways to harness renewable energy sources,” said U.S. Senator Patty 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 exploring this technology in the right way - by being good stewards of the Puget Sound.”

    “This grant will help Snohomish PUD continue its strong record of innovation, as shown by its remarkable progress in developing geothermal and tidal energy and promoting energy efficiency,”  said U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, whose district includes southern Snohomish County.  “As we address the problems of climate change on a national level, seeking new sources of clean energy will continue to be crucial to our economic and environmental well-being.  I’m pleased to see Snohomish PUD take such strong leadership role in exploring the clean energy frontier.”

    During the next two years, the DOE funds will support critical site studies related to geotechnical, bathymetrical, and tidal current regime as well as social and environmental considerations. PUD researchers also will focus on designs for a pilot plant, construction planning issues, community outreach/consultation and permitting activities.

    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).

    For information about the UW/OSU grant to develop the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, visit the following Web site link: http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2008/Sep08/waves.html

  • Snohomish PUD Secures 2nd BPA Grant for Tidal Power Studies
    7/22/2008

    Going Green - More Support for Groundbreaking Tidal Energy Research

    Everett, WA – Snohomish County Public Utility District has received a $263,000 grant from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to fund additional research of tidal energy potential in the region. The PUD has taken a leadership position in identifying additional green energy sources in the region.  Its tidal research includes feasibility studies to assess the technical, economic and environmental viability of seven tidal energy sites in the Puget Sound.  BPA provided $220,000 in research funding in 2007.

    “We appreciate the opportunity to build a stronger partnership with BPA in support of innovative energy technologies that can be tapped right here in the Northwest,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “Our country’s energy challenges are significant.  With continued growth and increased demand, we need to look to energy sources that are clean, predictable and emission-free. BPA recognizes the importance of these goals with its support of tidal energy research.”

    “The people of the Pacific Northwest benefit from a reliable and low-cost electric system that was developed through technology innovation and we are happy to work with partners like Snohomish PUD to ensure the system continues to evolve in order to meet the region’s growing demands,” said Terry Oliver, BPA's chief technology innovation officer. “BPA’s Technology Innovation program is working with partners across the nation to advance solutions to tomorrow's critical Pacific Northwest energy challenges, and this project is one of the great examples of such efforts.”

    The PUD’s research includes continued computer modeling studies, assessments of environmental and regulatory issues, consideration of potential project effects and review and selection of tidal technology.  Much of the research will focus on Admiralty Inlet, a site with considerable promise for tidal energy generation. Beyond BPA’s financial support, the PUD will continue to work with technical partners on the studies, including the University of Washington and the Electric Power Research Institute.  The utility is also seeking input from a range of stakeholders, including government agencies, local tribes, environmental groups and other interested parties as part of its review process.

    The PUD received permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2007 that allow it to conduct a series of studies at the seven sites.  The research sites are: Spieden Channel, San Juan Channel, Guemes Channel, Agate Passage, Rich Passage, Admiralty Inlet and Deception Pass. The entire study period is expected to last three years per the parameters of the permits.

    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).

  • Congressional Support Bolsters Snohomish PUD Tidal Power Study
    7/10/2008

    Energy Solutions – Senate Committee Allots $500,000 for Green Energy Effort

    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).

  • Meeting Growth with Green Energy
    7/9/2008

    PUD Seeks Public Input for its Energy Resource Plan

    PUD customers can learn how the utility is planning to meet load growth through conservation and green, renewable energy resources at two upcoming July meetings.  The PUD currently is reviewing its draft “Integrated Resource Plan,” which provides a long-term strategy regarding future energy resources.  It establishes an action plan that ensures enough resources are available, at a reasonable cost, to meet future energy loads.

    The PUD’s preferred plan positions the utility as a leader in conservation and renewable resource development. It sets aggressive goals for new, cost-effective conservation and establishes “stretch” goals of 5 percent in additional energy efficiency.  Under the plan, future power supplies would include geothermal, tidal, wind, landfill gas, small low-impact hydro and contracts with the Bonneville Power Administration.

    Two public meetings are scheduled to share the proposed plan and get input from customers.

    Meeting Growth with Green Energy
    Integrated Resource Plan Meeting
    Thursday, July 24 – 6:30 p.m
    Tuesday, July 29 – 6:30 p.m.
    Snohomish County PUD
    2320 California Street - Everett

    For other questions, contact Lisa Hunnewell, PUD Marketing Analyst at 425/783-8077 or ljhunnewell@snopud.com.

  • PUD Offers Tidal Energy Research Update for Customers
    11/2/2007

    Snohomish County Public Utility District will update customers about its tidal energy research in the Puget Sound during a public presentation at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the PUD’s main office in Everett.  Tidal energy advocates and other stakeholders, including Washington State Senator Steve Hobbs, are expected to attend.

    The PUD recently launched a three-year study at seven potential sites in the Puget Sound. The research will help the utility assess the technical, economic and environmental viability of each of the tidal energy sites. Throughout the study phase, the PUD will seek input from local tribes, environmental groups and other interested stakeholders.

    If developed, the seven sites – from Rich Passage near Bremerton to Spieden Channel in the northern San Juan Islands – could provide an estimated 100 average-megawatts of energy, or enough power for up to 70,000 homes.

    The PUD has secured support from several financial and technical partners, including the University of Washington, the Electric Power Research Institute and the Bonneville Power Administration, which provided about $200,000 in funding.

    Tidal Energy Presentation
    Tuesday, Nov. 13 – 6:30 p.m.
    PUD Headquarters
    2320 California Street - Everett

  • Snohomish County PUD Seeks Renewable Energy Proposals
    7/23/2007

    Clean Energy Sought to Address Growth & Meet New State Mandate

    Snohomish County Public Utility District is seeking proposals for renewable energy projects to meet continued customer growth throughout its service area. The PUD is interested in purchasing up to approximately 100 average megawatts from renewable resources.  The utility requests proposals for a variety of clean energy sources – including, but not limited to, wind, tidal, solar, biomass, landfill gas, and geothermal – with a minimum size of 5 megawatts.   The PUD expects it will need to add energy resources to its portfolio in the 2008-2012 timeframe.

    The utility is committed to addressing customer growth through cost-effective conservation and a diverse mix of renewable technologies.  It also must meet new requirements under Initiative 937, which mandates that all large utilities in the state cover 15 percent of their energy load with eligible renewable resources by 2020.  Additionally, the utility has become one of the first utilities in the country to adopt an official climate change policy.  This policy directs the utility to provide electric, water, and associated services in an environmentally responsible way. 

    In assessing project proposals, the PUD will give preference to the most economical and reliable renewable resources, which fulfill several criteria: compatibility with resource needs, cost, risk management, public benefits, and strategic and financial considerations.

    A pre-bid conference will be held August 8, 2007 at the Sea-Tac Conference Center.  Proposals are due on October 1, 2007.  For additional information about proposals and/or a copy of the PUD’s Renewable Energy Request for Proposals document, call Principal Utility Analyst Jeff Deren at 425-783-8371 or visit the PUD website at www.snopud.com (see Energy Resources section).

  • Snohomish PUD Secures BPA Grant for Tidal Power Studies in Puget Sound
    4/25/2007

    Snohomish County Public Utility District has received a $220,729 grant from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) to fund studies of seven tidal energy sites in Puget Sound. During 2007, the utility will conduct a series of studies to evaluate the environmental and economic viability of the sites.

    “We’re pleased to have BPA join us as a partner as we explore this promising new technology,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “Tidal energy is a clean, predictable, emission-free power source that’s right in our backyard. As our region grows, we’re interested in identifying renewable resources to help meet increased needs.”

    The PUD received permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), earlier this year that allow it to conduct feasibility studies at the sites to determine their environmental and economic viability. The sites that received FERC study permits are: Spieden Channel, San Juan Channel, Guemes Channel, Agate Passage, Rich Passage, Admiralty Inlet and Deception Pass. The entire study period can take up to three years per the parameters of the permit.

    “We're excited about the PUD's exploration of tidal power as a local source of energy with no associated fuel costs or emissions,” said Steve Wright, BPA administrator. “We at BPA are happy to be working on this constructive endeavor with Snohomish County PUD.”

    As part of its initial study phase, the PUD will measure the velocity and direction of tidal currents, consider potential tidal devices to employ, assess environmental and regulatory issues, determine how best to connect the energy source to the electrical grid, and conduct computer modeling studies to evaluate site conditions. Beyond the financial support from BPA, the PUD will get assistance from technical partners on the studies, including the University of Washington and the Electric Power Research Institute.

    In addition to the studies being conducted, the PUD will be seeking input from government agencies, local tribes, environmental groups and other interested stakeholders as part of its initial review process.

  • Renewable Energy Bill Aids Tidal Energy Research & Development
    4/24/2007

    A bill introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives would provide financial support for research and development of energy sources based in oceans, rivers, lakes, streams and other waterways. The proposed legislation, which also would provide production tax credits and investment credits, could benefit Snohomish County PUD as it studies tidal energy at seven sites in Puget Sound. U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) authored the legislation, known as the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Promotion Act of 2007.

    “We applaud Rep. Inslee’s forward-thinking in supporting research of these innovative technologies,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “Tidal energy is a promising, emission-free resource that’s abundant locally and provides a means to diversify our regional energy supplies.”

    The bill would authorize $50 million annually in federal funds for research and development over a 10-year period starting in 2008. Energy sources that utilize dams, diversionary structures or impoundment devices would be excluded from funding. The legislation also calls for an investment credit of 30 percent and extended depreciation for equipment that produces electricity from marine and hydrokinetic sources. Additional tax production credits also would be available.

    “We'll need a range of new technologies to supply our energy needs in a carbon-constrained world,” said Rep. Inslee. “Marine power will be an important part of the clean-energy mix.”

    The PUD received permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), earlier this year that allow it to conduct feasibility studies at seven tidal energy sites in Puget Sound to determine their environmental and economic viability. The study phase is expected to take up to three years per the parameters of the permits.

  • Snohomish PUD Awarded Permits for Admiralty Inlet
    3/12/2007

    Snohomish County PUD has received the seventh and final permit it had sought to study tidal energy sites in Puget Sound. On Friday, March 9, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted a permit to Snohomish PUD to study the Admiralty Inlet tidal energy site. The utility now has FERC study permits for: Spieden Channel, San Juan Channel, Guemes Channel, Agate Passage, Rich Passage, Deception Pass, and Admiralty Inlet.

    “This is certainly good news for us,” said Craig Collar, Senior Manager of Energy Resource Development. “While we were hoping, even expecting, that FERC would grant us all of the requested permits, it is nice to have them now awarded. Having all seven permits for Puget Sound makes it easier for us to lay out our study plans in a way that achieves economies of scale.”

    During the initial study phase at the seven 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 and multi-use issues – such as impacts on marine life, shipping lanes and recreational areas – and mitigation strategies.

    “We plan to start this study phase immediately and are looking forward to learning more about these Puget Sound sites and sharing this information with other interested stakeholders,” said Collar. “Our Commissioners have expressed their enthusiasm for Snohomish PUD being a leader in this important, renewable, and emission-free technology.”

    Throughout the process, the utility will seek input from local tribes, environmental groups and other interested organizations. Additionally, 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.

  • Snohomish PUD Receives Permits to Study Tidal Power in Puget Sound
    2/23/2007

    Harnessing Ocean Energy

    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.

Note:

These press releases document tidal research milestones (2007-2014).