Tacoma Power to lead study on Narrows tidal power potential

Tacoma Power and the Electric Power Research Institute will lead a study about the feasibility of using tidal action through...

Tacoma Power and the Electric Power Research Institute will lead a study about the feasibility of using tidal action through the Tacoma Narrows to generate electricity and which of several tidal-flow technologies would be the most environmentally and economically appropriate.

The Bonneville Power Administration and the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development also are helping fund the $25,000 study.

The Narrows study is part of a larger, $350,000 EPRI project to evaluate tidal power feasibility and technology in the United States and Canada. The EPRI study includes site selection; device selection; design, performance and cost estimates of both a pilot and a commercial scale plant; economic assessment of a commercial scale plant; environmental effects; and permitting issues.

“The Narrows may offer an opportunity to produce clean, renewable electricity in our own backyard,” said Steve Klein, Tacoma Power superintendent. “Technology for tidal generation has advanced significantly in recent years but application of the technology is still in its infancy. A study of the Narrows could have broader application for tidal projects in other parts of the United States and throughout the world.”

Klein noted that a successful tidal power project in Tacoma could attract technology and manufacturing companies that specialize in renewable energy, much the same way Tacoma Power’s Click! Network has attracted telecommunications-based companies.

“We’re a year or two away from deciding whether to build a tidal demonstration project,” Klein added. “This study is an essential first step, and Tacoma Power is the logical organization to take the lead. We are recognized as a leader in the utility industry in power generation, conservation and integrating electrical and telecommunications systems for improved transmission and distribution operations. We’re excited and optimistic about the future of tidal power to meet our customers’ electricity needs.”

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