Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tacoma Hydro vs Medford Solar

Under the category of fostering Unnecessary Interstate Alternative Energy Competitions.

Let’s have a race. You know, like Seattle and Tacoma competed for the terminus to the Transcontinental Railroad. Or perhaps more like the interstate rivalry that comes before a big game where the governors bet fish and coffee (or whatever delicacies they are known for) over the outcome.

Medford, Oregon and Tacoma, Washington are both looking to help meet the alternative energy expectations from there state charters by building out energy facilities. The state renewable portfolio standards for Washington are 15% by 2020 and 25% by 2025 for Oregon. Though wind power seems to have the lead for utility-scale development, and is the primary renewable resource available today, in this instance we are pitting the long time favorite solar against the relative newcomer hydro.

Medford has approved exploring construction of a 15-acre, 11,000-panel solar farm at the regional sewage treatment plant. The company which would project manage and construct the facility is SunEnergy, a Bend company that says it would find investors to pay for the 2 megawatt solar power plant. SunEnergy would sell the electricity to the water reclamation plant for below commercial rates. They hope to generate power by 2008.

Information from the FOX12 website says that “The solar panels would generate about 80 percent of the power the water reclamation plant purchases from Pacific Power. There would be no capital or maintenance costs to the city. The plan is projected to save the city about $33,000 annually in its first year, $46,000 annually in its sixth year, and around $154,000 annually in its 30th year.”

Curt Woodward of The Associated Press reported a couple of weeks ago on the mile-wide channel of the Tacoma Narrows being the next frontier of green energy.

“It’s awe-inspiring,” said Burt Hamner, chief executive of Puget Sound Tidal Power. “There is so much power out there that it boggles the mind.”

Indeed. So what’s happening on that project? In an August 7th update by Tacoma Power they report they are half-way through its site specific feasibility studies into generating power by using tidal currents in the Tacoma Narrows. The current phase of the project began in March 2007 when Tacoma Power hired Puget Sound Tidal Power LLC (PSTP) to conduct necessary work.

Puget Sound Tidal Power LLC, which was founded in 2006, was awarded a $300K contract by Tacoma Power believes that if commercial scale generation appears feasible then in 2008 Tacoma Power may start a $3-5M pilot project to validate the technology and obtain permits.

Now that’s not the same as generating power by 2008, but come on, the clocks ticking.

Obviously we need to pay attention to accessibility, (reliable, affordable modern energy services), availability (addresses the quality and reliability of the service) and acceptability (addresses environmental goals and public attitudes).

But not to digress, Tacoma and Medford energy power plant initiatives,...

Let’s get it on!

1 comment:

Erik said...

I love the idea of harnessing tidal power in the Narrows. Let's go Tacoma!