Feds Give Ocean Power A Pilot’s License

By Published On: December 21, 2007

While San Francisco and Pacific Gas & Electric announced a joint plan to trap tidal energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decided to support oceanic energy too in a Washington state project. What federal regulators call “hydrokinetic energy” was approved for the first time December 20. The Makah Bay Offshore Wave Pilot Project developed by Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy received a five-year license. “It’s a ‘wet run’ for the pilot process,” said commissioner Jon Wellinghoff. Commissioner Suedeen Kelly noted that there are 88 issued and pending applications nationwide for tidal energy projects. “To protect against any potential adverse impacts, the license contains a provision allowing FERC to shut down or remove the project should it find that operation unacceptably affects the surrounding environment,” according to the agency. The 250 kW project is set to be anchored about 2 miles offshore of Clallam County, Washington, with a 3.7 mile transmission cable to shore. (See story below on San Francisco’s tidal plan.) In other federal regulatory news, the commission clarified its transmission open access rules. It’s a plan that commissioner Kelly said is supposed to benefit renewable energy and expand opportunities to use the grid. The order, 890, reforms conditions of its open access transmission tariff methodology, transmission facilities planning, and the conditions of services offered by transmission providers. Open access has not been a recent issue in California, as the grid operator and utilities appear rather eager to tap into alternative forms of energy. The issue in this state is how to get transmission lines built amidst environmental and land use opposition, as well as getting the lines financed.

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