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Navy displays new turbine system plan

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

CHIMACUM — The U.S. Navy is taking steps to design and install a hydropower system offshore of Marrowstone Island and wants to float the proposal in front of the public before it sinks any turbines.

An open house is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. today on the proposed tidal energy kinetic hydropower system in Admiralty Inlet.Navy officials will present information and hear comments at Chimacum Elementary School Library, 91 West Valley Road.

Congress has appropriated $5.6 million for the project that will involve a single array of up to three triple-blade turbines.

‘Demonstration project’

“It’s a demonstration project or feasibility study,” said Sheila Murray, Navy Region Northwest environmental public affairs officer.

The project will run for a year, and the turbines will be removed, Murray said.

It is intended to test the effectiveness of tidal power in the area.

“The data will be turned over and then hopefully whatever comes from this some other company could pick up,” she said.

Electricity generated during the demonstration will be routed to an isolated electrical load at Naval Magazine Indian Island, not directly connected to Puget Sound Energy’s privately generated power systems or utility grid, as proposed.

The open house will offer residents a chance to see information, photos and graphics about the project at stations with experts available to discuss the information and hear comments. Information provided will include environmental impact, technology, risk assessment and impact on marine mammals and fish.

Murray said an “active acoustic fish monitor” would be used during the demonstration project with a fish finder scanning the water columns during turbine operations to see the impact on fish.

Two Admiralty Inlet sites are being proposed: One off the northeastern tip of the island known as Marrowstone Point and another off Nodule Point near the southern tip of Marrowstone Island.

The Marrowstone South location is preferred because of better tidal characteristics, Navy officials said.

Both sites will be considered in the Navy environmental assessment.

Public information, environmental assessment, public review and comment, and the project’s Army Corps of Engineers and state Department of Ecology permit period is scheduled to take two years.

Demonstration rig

Navy Region Northwest, based in Silverdale, proposes to design, install, generate and deliver electrical energy and collect operational and environmental data during the demonstration of the Verdant Power Kinetic Hydropower System.

Murray said Congress’ National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 directed the Defense Department to generate 25 percent of its power through from renewable sources by 2025.

The Navy turbines would be dropped in the vicinity of Admiralty Inlet where Snohomish County Public Utility District also has plans to place turbines in 2011.

Wayne King, Jefferson County PUD commissioners chairman, has said his PUD is interested in the project, especially since voters in November last year approved authority to the PUD to provide electric service.

Other sites Snohomish plans to install tidal energy systems including the San Juan Channel and San Juan Islands, Deception Pass on the north end of Whidbey Island and Guemes Channel near the San Juan Islands.

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Port Townsend-Jefferson County Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jeff.chew@peninsuladailynews.com

Peninsula Daily News
Port Angeles, WA
July 15, 2009

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