Your Connection To Jazz, Blues and NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Feds OK Snohomish County PUD's Tidal Power Project In Admiralty Inlet

Federal regulators have given unanimous approval for an underwater energy project powered by the tides in Washington’s Admiralty Inlet.

Two turbines will take advantage of the fast-moving currents and daily tidal movements in the busy passage west of Whidbey Island, at a depth of about 200 feet.

Snohomish County PUD says the turbines will be connected to the electrical grid with cables that emerge on leased land south of the ferry dock in Coupeville.

Some groups are concerned about the effect of the turbines on wildlife, especially orca whales, which are known to be curious. But the PUD says its plan was developed with plenty of public input and includes protections for the ecosystem.

The utility says the project will be the first grid-connected array of large-scale tidal energy turbines in the world. It will be up and running in about two years, and is expected to be installed for three to five years.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.