Public Comment Sought on Wave Energy Test Site Proposal
As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, cut carbon pollution, and develop domestic energy sources, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is assessing whether there is competitive interest in wave energy research or development in an area of federal waters offshore Oregon where the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University (NNMREC-OSU) proposes to site a hydrokinetic energy facility to test utility-scale wave energy devices.
BOEM published the "Notice of Potential Research Lease on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Oregon, Request for Competitive Interest” in the Federal Register on March 24, initiating a 30-day public comment period during which expressions of interest in the proposed lease area will be accepted. BOEM also seeks public comment on the hydrokinetic facility proposal, its potential environmental consequences and the use of the area in which the proposed project would be located. The notice will enable BOEM to determine whether it is appropriate to issue a lease to NNMREC-OSU on a non-competitive basis, or whether a competitive process is required.
"Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in siting a national grid-connected research facility to support the testing of commercial-scale marine hydrokinetic devices," said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. "We look forward to our continuing partnership with Oregon and key stakeholders to support the advancement of promising offshore renewable energy technologies."
NNMREC-OSU proposes to develop and deploy its Pacific Marine Energy Center – South Energy Test Site as a facility for developers to test utility-scale wave energy devices at four test berths, with a connection to the mainland electric grid via a subsea cable.
The project is designed to support up to 10 megawatts (MW) of electricity generation from individual devices and small-scale arrays. The facility would be located about four nautical miles offshore Newport, Oregon in water depths ranging from 180-230 feet. The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center is one of three national centers supported by the Department of Energy to facilitate the development of marine renewable energy technology with research, education and outreach
NNMREC-OSU’s proposed project is the latest in a series of lease initiatives BOEM has undertaken to support offshore renewable energy development. On February 5, 2014, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell was joined by Oregon Governor Kitzhaber and BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau to announce BOEM’s determination, after a similar request for interest and public comment, that there was no competitive interest in an area proposed for a 30 MW floating wind energy technology pilot project offshore Coos Bay, Oregon.
The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the total technically recoverable wave energy resource along the U.S. coast to be 1,170 terawatts a year (TWh/yr), which is almost one third of the 4,000 TWh of electricity used in the United States each year. The potential of just 1 TWh/yr of energy will supply around 93,850 average U.S. homes with power annually. The recoverable wave energy resource for the West Coast is estimated at 250 TWh/year.
BOEM will accept expressions of interest and public comments in either of the following ways:
Comments can be submitted electronically at: http://www.boem.gov/Submitting-Comments. Click on the "Open Comment Documents" link and follow instructions to view relevant documents and submit comments.
Written comments should be sent Jean Thurston Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Office of Strategic Resources 770 Paseo Camarillo, cm215 Camarillo, California 93010
NNMREC-OSU submitted a lease request for its marine hydrokinetic test facility to BOEM in June 2013. With the exception of confidential and proprietary information, the lease request can be viewed, at: http://www.boem.gov/Renewable-Energy-Program/State-Activities/Oregon.aspx
BOEM has exclusive jurisdiction to issue leases, easements, and rights-of-way regarding Outer Continental Shelf lands for hydrokinetic projects and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has exclusive jurisdiction to issue licenses and exemptions for hydrokinetic projects on the Outer Continental Shelf. For more information on BOEM's renewable energy programs, visit: http://www.boem.gov/Renewable-Energy-Program/index.aspx.