The World, Worldwide Ocean Energy News, April 12, 2008
Sport and commercial fishermen, members from related marine industries and Ocean Power Technologies representative Steve Kopf met again Wednesday — and made tentative progress on rebuilding trust.
A robust agenda that included discussing the difference between a traditional licensing process and an integrated licensing process — two different ways a wave energy company can apply to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a full license — resulted in a three-hour meeting at Oregon International Port of Coos Bay offices.
Kopf proposed working with the recently formed Southern Oregon Ocean Resource Coalition on a road map to discuss issues relating to the 200-buoy proposed wave energy park off the North Spit.
In January, Kopf told fishermen in Charleston the company was proposing a 20-buoy installation. By March, that changed to 200. The switch shocked the fishing industry and put already tenuous relationships between the two entities in jeopardy. At the same time, it galvanized the fleet into forming SOORC.
SOORC participants touched on recent developments in the wave energy industry that included the Australian company, Energetech, withdrawing its permit request from FERC for a wave energy park off of Florence.
The “gold rush” is ending, Kopf said.
Various companies have applied for permits to study sites, largely in the hopes of locking up ocean territory from other companies. It’s also called “site banking.”
Kopf said companies can apply for a permit in an afternoon. To apply for a full license, such as what OPT is doing for its Reedsport project, takes millions of dollars and a lot of time. Some companies may not find it worth the expense.
“I kind of predicted that,” Kopf said.
“Will you file for that space?” Charleston troller Jeff Reeves asked.
Kopf sidestepped the question — and repeated questions from Port Deputy Director Mike Gaul, opting instead to suggest OPT send a formal, written response to SOORC.
Finavera, who received a preliminary permit to study a site off of Bandon, is under an April 26 deadline to submit its preliminary application document to FERC. Kopf said it doesn’t look promising that will happen, either.
The company still is working on its license for a project in Makah Bay.
Kopf noted that OPT already is working through settlement discussions with state and federal agencies for its Reedsport project.
Settlement discussions don’t necessarily mean that groups or agencies have approved a specific project. It simply means both entities have agreed to what further data will be collected and how the entities will cooperate.
For energy companies, it’s a risk-reduction measure, Kopf said, noting that so far, OPT is the company that has made the most progress, reaching settlement agreements with some groups and state agencies.
“We’re the lead project on this in the U.S., probably the world,” Kopf said.
Kopf said OPT plans to file a full draft license application to FERC next week, followed by a final, full application for the Reedsport project in May.
Both SOORC and OPT agreed to continue to work collaboratively in the coming months and that further discussion on the traditional licensing process vs. the integrated process will take place when the groups meet again in May.