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Snohomish County PUD Cancels Tidal Power Project

Courtesy of Snohomish County PUD
A screenshot from a promotional video by OpenHydro, the manuficaturing company that was one of the partners on the project.

Snohomish County Public Utility District has pulled the plug on itshigh-profile research project to develop technology that harnesses the tides to generate electrical power. The utility says the U.S. Department of Energy was not willing to share in escalating costs for the project.

It was to be located in Admiralty Inlet, west of Whidbey Island.

The federal agency committed in 2006 to cover a fixed dollar amount that, at the time, covered half of the total bill for the tidal energy project. But it was not clear how to cover increased costs for materials and new mandates for studies, and the DOE said Friday it would provide no additional funding for the effort.

After eight years of planning and environmental monitoring, Snohomish County was soliciting final bids to move forward with preparation of the site for two underwater turbines, which would have gone in next year and remained for three to five years.

In a statement, Snohomish County PUD general manager Steve Klein says the project was intended to increase knowledge for the benefit of the whole nation. But without equal cost sharing, it cannot justify going forward

Still, Klein said a great deal of value has come from the study, including baseline data on sea floor conditions and underwater monitoring devices developed by the University of Washington.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to