Publisher’s Note: On May 21, 2008 FERC rejected the Requests for Rehearing from Fort Bragg, Mendocino County & FISH. The article below was written before that decision was handed down.
MendoCoastCurrent, May 6, 2008
On May 5, 2008, Mendocino County filed their response to PG&E’s comments related to Mendocino County’s Request for Rehearing on the Wave Energy project off the Mendocino coast. This is the latest filing at FERC in response to PG&E’s bid to explore wave energy on the Mendocino coast near Fort Bragg, California.
Mendocino County’s position is that PG&E brought no new information in their comment about Mendocino’s Request for Rehearing, although the issues around the initial notification on the wave energy preliminary permit are highlighted. Mendocino makes the case that PG&E had no statutory requirement or obligation to notify as the Federal Powers Act places the written notice obligation “squarely with the Commission.”
Originally, PG&E’s commented that there was an ‘extreme delay’ in Mendocino’s seeking the rehearing and Mendocino claims their Motion to Intervene “was filed as soon as possible after the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors was presented with the details of the WaveConnect permit application at its September 19, 2007 meeting.”
So due to the Commission’s failure to meet their own standards with regard to written notice and no basis for PG&E’s position of ‘extreme delay’ in requesting Intervener status, the “only reasonable resolution at this time is rescission” of the preliminary permit.
Mendocino addresses PG&E’s vagueness of the wave energy project description (proposed project locations, number of wave energy converters) in the preliminary permit application and adds that “the local community was denied both the opportunity to investigate the feasibility of a competing applications and a voice regarding the terms and execution of the permit itself.”
Additionally, Mendocino has requested their own requirements for any wave energy project off the Mendocino coast, essentially defining its own process to include more checks and balances as well as transparency of plans and findings to local governments and the public:
- Within one year of permit issue, PG&E shall submit a plan to FERC and Mendocino that details type, number and location of devices for study within the next five years;
- PG&E shall provide local government with access to all consultant reports, findings and communications related to environmental impact and other impacts resulting from construction, operation and removal of the proposed project;
- PG&E shall promptly notify Mendocino if it sets up any obstruction, measuring devices, observable towers or other equipment in permit area;
- PG&E shall notify Mendocino if it decides to surrender the permit;
- After consultation with Mendocino, PG&E shall remove any and all equipment constructed or installed within the permit area if it decides to surrender their permit;
- Within one year of permit issue, PG&E shall submit a plan to FERC and Mendocino detailing removable of all equipment at the end of permit period;
- PG&E shall give Mendocino all evaluation and monitoring from the proposed research projects and provide regular updates of findings, also making this available to the public;
- Upon submitting Notice of Intent or Pre-Application Document to [license] the project, PG&E shall provide Mendocino a full description of all alternative project proposals under consideration by PG&E as well as related studies and reasons for accepting or rejecting.
Mendocino states “had the County had an opportunity to intervene in the preliminary permit proceedings, the County would have not only had an opportunity to determine the feasibility of a competing project but the County would have also raised its concerns about the vagueness of the project description and to propose additional permit conditions to clarify the project.”
Mendocino adds its wish to have had ample time to intervene and consider partnering with adjacent counties or private entities regarding a competing application as well as ample time to propose additional permit conditions to meaningfully participate.