Susan Chambers, The World, January 26, 2009
Oregon Wave Energy Partners I, as Ocean Power Technologies, filed its notice of intent and preliminary application document with FERC in March 2008 for the 200-buoy array off the North Spit.
The Southern Oregon Ocean Resource Coalition, Oregon International Port of Coos Bay, Surfrider Foundation and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife filed comments suggesting OPT slow down. Instead of going for a full build-out, phase it in after more studies are done, they said.
The 200-buoy plan also runs counter to FERC’s own advice.
In August 2008, FERC told OPT that, “since information about the potential environmental effects of large-scale projects, such as proposed in your (preliminary application document) is limited, we believe that in most situations, smaller pilot projects are better suited for development at this time.”
The coalition also debated the length of the license, should it be granted. Like hydropower licenses, which typically are in force for between 30 and 50 years, so too are hyrokinetic licenses — those that cover wave, tidal and current energy projects.
“… it is premature to license a project of the size and scope planned off of Coos Bay, especially given the 30- to 50-year license terms being sought after,” SOORC said, noting that more studies should be done first.
OPT has said it will be a few years before even the first few buoys are in the water. OPT hasn’t yet placed one buoy in the water at Gardiner but FERC could grant a license for the Coos Bay project before any studies from the Reedsport project are completed.
ODFW, too, said more studies must be done.
“ODFW believes that the proposed project size (200 buoys) is not consistent with state’s support of experimental wave energy projects,” ODFW wrote in its comments. “A full build-out of a commercial sized project at this stage would lack the applied knowledge from studies of previous experimental projects, thus ODFW would not fully understand the potential impacts of the project in order to responsibly and thoroughly comment on a large project.”
The Port of Coos Bay reiterated Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s plan for the territorial sea. Last year, Kulongoski wrote to FERC that large-scale projects “must be preceded by a comprehensive evaluation for this and other uses of these waters to ensure those ocean resources and other ocean values and uses will not be harmed.”
That shows, the port said, that a small demonstration project should be allowed first, with studies over several years on impacts to the environment and coastal communities — before a full license is granted.
OPT’s vice president of Business Development and Marketing, Herb Nock, said the company expected such comments.
“It’s a range of views,” Nock said. “We came back to the public meetings and are investing the time to understand the alternative uses of the sea.”