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Snohomish County PUD seeks feds’ OK for Admiralty Inlet tidal project
A new power source could be operating out of the deep waters of Admiralty Inlet, but before that can happen, a public utility district must obtain the required federal license.
The Snohomish County Public Utility District, based out of Everett, submitted a Final License Application this month to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which officials said will be processed within six month.
The utility district needs the permit to install two turbines in Admiralty Inlet about one kilometer west of Keystone Harbor. The turbines are part of a project to study the viability of using tidal currents to generate electricity.
“The whole goal of this project is to gather information,” said Craig Collar, senior manager for energy resource development at the Snohomish County PUD. The project is necessary to better understand the economic, technological and environmental issues surrounding the technology.
The turbines will produce 300 kilowatts of energy, which is enough to power 250 homes. However, PUD officials are more interested in the research the project will provide than the amount of energy the turbines will produce.
Even though the permit from the federal agency will be processed by the fall, installation of the turbines couldn’t take place until the fall of 2013 after the PUD has gone through the permit process with Island County. The turbines will be connected to the power grid on Whidbey Island. The PUD will construct a building on a homeowner’s property. Once the experimental project is complete, the building will become a garage for the homeowner.
The research project will cost the PUD approximately $20 million. The U.S. Department of Energy provided a $10 million grant to help offset the cost to the local district. The PUD also secured $2.5 million in additional grants, said Neil Neroutsos, a spokesman for the Snohomish County PUD.
Once the two turbines are installed, Collar said they will produce power for three to five years, even though the permit lasts for 10 years. He said the permit’s clock starts ticking when it is issued and the turbine site has to be restored before the expiration date.
The Snohomish County PUD had also considered conducting a similar project at Deception Pass. Collar said the north end project is on hold until the results of the Admiralty Inlet project are determined.