SEATTLE — A local utility district’s tidal power facility in Puget Sound is encountering opposition from a company headquartered across the Pacific Ocean.
At a meeting last week a Japanese company that owns a fiberoptic cable that passes just over 100 meters away from a proposed tidal power installation near Whidbey Island voiced its concerns about the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Snohomish Public Utility District has been working on putting turbines on the bottom of Puget Sound for more than six years now. It chose Admiralty Inlet as the best spot to install two turbines as a pilot project that will generate enough power for about 250 homes.
Those turbines won’t go in if Pacific Crossing, a Japanese company that owns an underwater fiberoptic telecommunications cable that connects the U.S. to Asia, has its way.
The company says the turbines are being installed too close to its cable and that maintenance will be difficult with the turbines there.
Pacific Crossing did not respond to interview requests.
Craig Collar, senior manager of Energy Resource Development for the Snohomish County Public Utility District, says Pacific Crossing’s concerns are unfounded. OpenHydro - the company that will install the turbines for the Utility - has lots of experience.
“The fact is that OpenHydro has deployed three of these turbines now – in tidal regimes more challenging than Admiralty Inlet even, including the bay of Fundy and Orkney islands, and in every case they’ve deployed the turbines within plus or minus 3 meters of their target,” Collar said.
The turbines would be installed more than 100 meters away from Pacific Crossing’s cable.
A final permitting decision on the tidal project is expected this fall.
Check out EarthFix’s coverage of the pilot project in Admiralty Inlet, including a video.
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