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EVERETT — Several utilities and prospecting companies are trying to stake their claims to prime sites for what may be a new source of renewable energy: tidal power.
The Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) is among those trying to secure permits from federal energy regulators to examine harnessing tidal energy in key sites around Puget Sound.
The utility wants to explore planting fields of tidal turbines in such spots as Deception Pass and Admiralty Inlet.
It envisions as many as 1,662 turbines on the bottom of Puget Sound, according to permit applications filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The turbines would be staggered in rows to catch the strongest, most consistent currents. Most would be 100 feet tall with blades as large as 66 feet in diameter.
That many turbines could possibly generate 100 megawatts of electricity enough for 60,000 homes, proponents say
Snohomish County might be a leader in developing such energy, said Steve Klein, the PUD's general manager.
"We [could be] the Starbucks or Boeing of tidal power," he said.
The Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) will begin studying five northern Puget Sound sites for their tidal-power potential after permits were issued Thursday by federal regulators.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said the PUD may research sites at Speiden Channel and San Juan Channel, off San Juan Island; Guemes Channel, near Anacortes; and Agate Passage and Rich Passage, along Bainbridge Island.
The PUD now has three years to determine whether the five sites are economically viable and environmentally safe as tidal-power sites.
Regulators say they will need to scrutinize progress reports every six months to help establish a permanent rule for tidal projects.
That's OK with Rebecca Sherman of the Hydropower Reform Coalition, which wants to protect environmental interests.