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Posts Tagged ‘San Luis Obispo’

MendoCoastCurrent, January 7, 2009

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher today issued the following statement:

Today I announce my intention to step down as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), effective January 20, 2009. Although my term as commissioner does not end until 2012, I will also immediately begin to recuse myself from FERC business, as I explore other career opportunities.  

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Updates from Frank Hartzell’s article announcing FERC’s granting of GreenWave’s application:

On December 9, 2008  “the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted a Southern California development company exclusive rights to 17 square miles off the town of Mendocino for a wave energy study.

GreenWave LLC’s intent is to eventually produce a 100 megawatt wave energy power plant, more than twice as big as the 40 megawatt project Pacific Gas & Electric plans off Fort Bragg.

Due to redefining of the preliminary permit process by FERC, the new preliminary permit does not encourage in-water testing. It does give sole claim and study rights to GreenWave, blocking any local study of the same area.

More valuable, the preliminary permit gives GreenWave exclusive first rights to a license to build a wave energy farm, upon completion of the three-year study.

The preliminary permit came more than a year after GreenWave, of Thousand Oaks, filed for two preliminary permits. FERC had initially rejected the GreenWave application as too sketchy.

GreenWave also was granted a preliminary permit on Tuesday for a nearly identical proposal off San Luis Obispo.

 

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DAVID SNEED, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, April 2008

A Southern California company is eyeing the coastline off Montaña de Oro State Park to study the feasibility of an emerging renewable energy technology—converting wave action to electricity.

Green Wave Energy Solutions LLC has laid claim to a three-mile-wide swath of ocean a mile off the tip of the Morro Bay sand spit to Point Buchon —17 square miles in all — in which it hopes to eventually test the feasibility of wave power.

The Thousand Oaks company has applied to federal energy officials for permission to do the study.

“We’re still early on in development, but we feel there is a tremendous window of opportunity to do this,” said Wayne Burkamp, a San Francisco attorney who is GreenWave’s president.

The application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a preliminary permit would not give the company permission to put wave energy devices in the water. Rather, it would give the company three years to study the feasibility of wave energy.

“It’s like a mining claim,” said Allison Detmer, director of the state Coastal Commission’s energy program.

The application is one of several before FERC laying claim to coastal waters of California for possible development of wave energy.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) recently received a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of wave energy off the coast of Mendocino and Humboldt counties.

Green Wave also has an application for the Mendocino coast. Wave energy projects are also in the works in Oregon and Washington.

The San Luis Obispo County project is the southernmost.

Undecided technology

Neither the PG&E nor GreenWave applications state what type of wave energy devices would be used.

Two types are under development, Burkamp said. Both use the up-and-down motion of waves to generate electricity. One consists of a snake-like line of tubes floating on the surface of the ocean that undulates as waves pass by. The other employees a buoy that uses the pitching and heaving motions caused by waves to generate power.

Green Wave officials aren’t providing additional details on what technology they might use.

“Given the time horizon for getting through the permitting process (which could be years) and the uncertainties of what the technologies will actually look like, GreenWave believes it would be misleading to provide detailed specifications of a technology at this stage,” Burkamp wrote in the application to FERC.

A wave power facility off San Luis Obispo County could generate as much as 100 megawatts of power, the application states. That’s enough power for about 90,000 homes.

By contrast, Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant generates 2,200 megawatts.

The company anticipates spending as much as $2 million during the initial feasibility phase, while actual installation of a wave-power facility would cost as much as $40 million.

Regulatory hurdles

According to the application, Green Wave’s study area is one to three and a half miles offshore and seven miles long. Wave energy components would not be visible from shore, Burkamp said.

“A project area of this size is required to allow flexibility for performing the necessary assessments and properly siting the project components,” the application reads.

This area was chosen because of its abundant wave action and its proximity to Morro Bay. The city has a port and power plant, where electricity generated by a wave power plant could land and hook into the power grid, Burkamp said.

He said a test project could be in the water within a year to a year and a half. However, Coastal Commission officials say the establishment of a wave power facility anywhere in California is years away.

“This industry is very young, and they need to do a lot of testing first,” Detmer said.

Wave power facilities would also face many regulatory hurdles. Burkamp estimates that a facility would require 26 federal, state and local permits.

Placing wave energy devices in the water and laying transmission lines on the ocean floor would both require coastal development permits, Detmer said. Projects located farther off shore than three miles would be under the jurisdiction of the federal Minerals Management Service.

Environmental groups are reacting with caution to the recent interest in wave power. They support the idea of renewable energy sources such as wave power, but are waiting for details about specific projects.

“We think it’s important that all of these projects proceed with caution,” said Rick Wilson, coastal management director with the Surfrider Foundation. “Even though this is clean, green technology, there can be potential impacts to fishing and environmental impacts.”

Possible environmental impacts include noise, increased vessel traffic and blockage of whale migration routes.

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TIMM HERDT, Ventura County Star, April 23, 2008

Former Assemblyman Tony Strickland of Moorpark, who has spent his entire adult life either working in the Legislature or running for political office, has decided to present himself to voters this year wearing the mantle of a newfound vocation: “Alternative Energy Executive.”

That is the ballot designation Strickland, a Republican, chose when he filed in March to run for the 19th Senate District.

Strickland, 38, says the description accurately reflects his station in life. Some of his critics, however, believe he is using the title to deceptively present himself to voters as a friend of the environment.

The title will appear under his name on the ballot. It refers to his position as vice president and partner in a startup company, founded in June, called Green Wave Energy Solutions. The company has filed applications with the Federal Energy Commission to develop two projects off the California coast.

It hopes eventually to produce electricity from a nascent technology that seeks to harness energy from ocean waves. Strickland is one of five partners who each pledged to put up $5,000 to start the company, although Strickland acknowledges he has yet to pay his share.

“I believe I am going to be successful in this company.” Strickland said. “I’ve always thought alternative energy will be very profitable. I think it will be the wave of the future.”

Strickland went to work out of college as an aide to then-Assemblyman Tom McClintock. In 1998, at age 28, he became one of the youngest members ever elected to the Legislature. Until his association with the new company, his whole life had been politics.

The ballot designation has raised eyebrows among environmentalists, who assert he is using the title solely in an attempt to favorably introduce himself to environmental-minded voters in Santa Barbara County, a part of the district in which he is unknown.

“That’s a complete scam,” said Bill Magavern, California advocacy director for the Sierra Club. “For him to pose as a supporter of alternative energy is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of voters.”

Magavern noted that Strickland, as a member of the Assembly, voted against a 2002 law that expanded the demand for alternative energy by requiring utility companies to supply more of their electrical power from renewable energy sources. That law, in essence, created a virtually guaranteed market for any power that a future wave-energy project might produce.

California’s Elections Code allows candidates to place a designation beneath their names on the ballot. Incumbents can list that status and those who currently hold elected office can list that title. Candidates cannot cite offices they formerly held.

In the 19th Senate District, both candidates — Strickland and Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson — are former members of the Assembly. As private citizens, they had to choose some other description. The law allows them to use “no more than three words designating current principal professions, vocations or occupations.”

Jackson, who spent 22 years working as an attorney before being elected to the Assembly in 1998, chose the designation “educator.” Although she is still a member of the California Bar, she said she did not choose “attorney” because she has not practiced law in a decade.

Because she taught at UC Santa Barbara as the university’s “public policymaker in residence” from the time she left office in 2004 until last June, she said, she opted for “educator.” From March 2007 to March 2008, she reported making $50,000 as an educator.

After leaving office in 2004, Strickland became president of the limited-government advocacy group the California Club for Growth, a post he was forced to resign when he ran for state controller in 2006. On that ballot, he designated himself as “Taxpayer Organization President.”

Since then, his statement of economic interests shows his only source of income has been as a consultant for a firm he manages called New Market Strategies, a position for which his report shows he received income of more than $10,000 and less than $100,000. He acknowledges he has received no income from GreenWave, since the company has yet to generate any revenues.

Something of an art form

Selecting a ballot designation has become something of an art form in political campaigns in California. Typically, candidates pick designations that appeal to the constituencies of their parties — “educator” for Democrats, for instance, or “businessman” for Republicans.

“It’s one of the more interesting things to deal with,” said GOP consultant Kevin Spillane, who is not associated with the Strickland campaign. “It’s one of the things you can control, but it has strange limitations on it. I’ve actually gone to court over ballot designations.”

In the early stages of the campaign, Strickland has sought to capitalize on the positive associations with alternative energy among voters. Introductory radio commercials he aired in Santa Barbara in December emphasized his affiliation with the fledgling energy company. In a March news release announcing the official kickoff of his campaign, he prominently described himself as “vice president of a renewable energy company he helped found.”

Other partners in the company include Thousand Oaks developer Gary Gorian and Ventura County Board of Education member Dean Kunicki.

Gorian, whose development company contributed $3,000 to Strickland’s 2006 campaign, describes himself as a longtime friend. Strickland said it was Gorian who first alerted him to the business and to the potential for wave energy production.

In addition to the partners, the company has two volunteer employees — Chris Wangsaporn, who is managing Strickland’s Senate campaign, and Joel Angeles, chief of staff to Strickland’s wife, Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, and a consultant to Tony Strickland’s campaign.

Gaining ‘sweat equity’

Although the two are not being paid, Strickland said they have been promised future considerations for the “sweat equity” they are devoting to helping the company get off the ground.

Strickland said his agreement gives him a 20% ownership in Green Wave. His responsibilities are “to guide the company on a strategic level. I’m there to coach on government affairs issues.”

He also serves as a company spokesman to the media and was recently quoted extensively in a Mendocino County newspaper story reporting on Green Wave’s application for a project off that county’s coast. That wave energy project and another proposed by Pacific Gas & Electric have generated environmental concerns in the area.

Jackson, the Democratic candidate, said she considered but rejected the idea of challenging whether Strickland’s involvement with a nascent company met the legal definition of being a “principal vocation or occupation” required to justify his ballot designation.

“It defies credibility,” she said. “I don’t think the public is easily fooled.”

Magavern of the Sierra Club notes that during Strickland’s six years in the Assembly he received poor ratings for his environmental record. “In general, Strickland had a zero record from both the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters,” he said.

One key bill Strickland opposed is the law generally credited with jump-starting the market for alternative energy in California. SB1078, passed in 2002, requires investor-owned utilities such as Southern California Edison to obtain at least 20 percent of the electrical power they supply from renewable energy sources.

They must increase their renewable energy portfolio by at least 1 percent a year until they meet that 20 percent goal.

That bill passed the Assembly on a 55-23 vote. Although it was supported mostly by Democrats, a number of Republican lawmakers joined with them, including new Senate Republican leader Dave Cogdill of Modesto.

Strickland said he voted no because he opposes government mandates.

“When there is a demand for something — and there is a public demand for alternative energy — the private sector will meet it,” he said. “I don’t believe the government needs to come in and mandate it.”

Political consultant Spillane said that in the end, the candidates’ ballot designations will have little effect in what is expected to be a free-spending, high-profile campaign.

“Ballot designations are crucial in lower visibility races,” he said. “But in this race it’s not going to matter that much. If people don’t know who Tony is now, by the time this race is over, they will.”

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