The World, March 22, 2008
COOS BAY — Fishermen, port officials and other interests want potential wave energy companies to consider the “source.”
“Source” is the acronym pronunciation for the Southern Oregon Ocean Resource Coalition — SOORC — a group of about a dozen folks who gathered for the first time Friday to talk about wave energy.
That was one goal.
The other was to hear what Ocean Power Technologies representative Steve Kopf had to say.
It’s been a little more than two weeks since South Coast interests found out OPT, under the name of Oregon Wave Energy Partners I LLC, filed a preliminary application document with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a 200-buoy wave energy facility off the North Spit — up from the 20 Kopf reported the company was planning in January.
Kopf’s words were like a mantra: “I’m sorry,” he said.
He said the same thing at a Wednesday meeting at the Port of Umpqua in Reedsport and reiterated the change was made on short notice at OPT’s headquarters in New Jersey.
It was made in three days’ time, he said. He was finally able to get the go-ahead to call folks out here, including Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission Executive Director Nick Furman, Oregon International Port of Coos Bay Deputy Director Mike Gaul and Coos County Commissioner John Griffith, on the day the application was filed with FERC.
“I knew when I made those calls, we’d have this meeting,” Kopf said, “and it wasn’t going to be pretty. … I know what you’re saying: I broke the trust.”
“I have a highly disappointed port commission,” he said.
The process, in effect, has reverted back to where it was months ago, Gaul said.
“Here’s Day One again. It has to start with open, honest discussion from now on,” he said.
Kopf and the rest of the group discussed several more details of the project and brainstormed some ideas that should be talked about at future meetings. The meeting covered some issues that had been covered before but that, in the minds of many on SOORC, particularly fishermen, needed to be covered again.
“This is the political reality,” Sen. Joanne Verger, D-Coos Bay, said to Kopf, underscoring her seriousness by tapping a finger on the table. “Understand that the fishing industry has been here long before wave energy. It has tradition, support. There’s a lot of sensitivity to this industry from Brookings to Astoria.”
Part of the OPT preliminary application calls for use of the traditional licensing process, as opposed to an integrated licensing process, the FERC default, or an alternative licensing process (see sidebar). Interested parties have 30 days in which to respond to FERC.
That was one of the main topics for which SOORC hoped Kopf could help.
We need more time, Gaul said.
SOORC needs to consider carefully the ramifications of supporting any of the three processes and would Kopf support SOORC’s request to FERC for a 90-day extension?
Several times, he was surprised at the level of thoughtfulness and concern evidenced by some of the fishermen’s comments.
“It’s good to have that,” Kopf said after the meeting at the Port of Coos Bay. “I thought it was productive. I’m looking forward to working with a professionally organized and thoughtful group.”
The fishermen and local community officials agreed that SOORC needs to do some things to become a nonprofit organization, but that will happen.
In the meantime, there still is wave energy work to do.
“One thing you did, you got us together,” salmon troller Paul Heikkila said.