Friday, May 16, 2008

Whidbey PUD - Tidal Generation

Deception Pass

I am part of a group working to establish a Whidbey Public Utility District (PUD). A PUD is nonprofit, locally regulated, and exists only to serve the power and water needs of a community. Created by legislation, in 1930, PUD's are a response to private power companies neglecting the needs of rural communities. Washington's PUD's have a long, bright history of successfully solving problems, and providing great service to rural communities. The official web page of our local effort to establish a Whidbey PUD is here. seabed generators

We are blessed with amazing natural resources on Whidbey Island, and, as it turns out, we're surrounded by natural energy just waiting to be harvested. Chief among this natural energy is Tidal power. There are more places for installing tidal power generation systems around our little island than anywhere in the whole rest of the Puget Sound. Deception Pass, Admiralty Inlet, Saratoga Passage, and Possession Sound are all prime candidates for underwater turbine installation. Map of Snohomish PUD proposal

In fact, Tacoma Power recently finished a study for a tidal project in the Tacoma Narrows. In that project, they note that Snohomish PUD has officially registered it's interest in installing tidal systems in the Admiralty Inlet and Deception Pass. It doesn't seem right to me that Whidbey Island would be left out of this type of project -- why should the residents of Snohomish benefit from our resources?

Tacoma Powers study is very thorough and complete (and big, 12Mb -> here), and provides an excellent overview of the opportunities and technologies developing for harnessing the tidal currents we now ignore. Environmentally neutral, safe and cost-effective, tidal power generation is just one area our Whidbey PUD should get involved with, and quickly -- before Snohomish beats us to our own resource!

A tidal turbine system is being installed soon in Nova Scotia, where the Bay of Fundy provides a tremendous source of power.

San Fransisco is also looking into harnessing the tides.

Tidal power generation is entirely green power, and the tides will continue as long as the moon orbits the earth. It is more reliable than wind power, and has less environmental impact. The only negative is that you have to have substantial tidal currents to use the technology -- and this is something every boater on Whidbey knows that we have in abundance. Dual Marine Turbine

The tide waits for no man on Whidbey Island.

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