FERC issues first hydrokinetic license to 1-MW Makah Bay

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued its first license for a hydrokinetic energy project, the 1-MW Makah Bay Offshore Wave Pilot Project proposed for the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Washington.

The Dec. 20 decision gives licensee Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy Ltd. a conditioned five-year license. While the company must obtain all federal permits before it can begin construction, it can move forward with portions of the license that do not require construction. (HNN 9/6/07)

Finavera must notify FERC once it receives all state and federal permits for the project. The license also requires the company to begin on-site construction within two years. Construction must be completed within three years of the license date.

The license order follows the Nov. 30 release of a policy statement in which FERC said it could, in certain circumstances, issue conditioned licenses for hydrokinetic projects. (HNN 12/4/07) FERC intends for that policy to help expedite license issuance for hydrokinetic projects generating electricity from currents, ocean waves, and tides.

The Makah Bay license includes mitigation measures to protect the environment. It also contains a provision allowing FERC to close or remove the project should it find operation unacceptably affects the surrounding environment.

The project (P-12751) is proposed for a site in Makah Bay 1.9 nautical miles offshore of Waatch Point in Clallam County, Wash. (HNN 10/27/06) It would include four 250-kW steel wave energy conversion buoys and a mooring/anchoring and electrical connection system. It also would feature an underwater transmission cable and a transmission line connecting to a public utility district distribution line.

FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher said hydrokinetic projects have tremendous potential.

�The issuance of today's license is a major step toward realizing that potential, by authorizing a pilot project to demonstrate this promising new technology,� Kelliher said.

Commissioner Philip Moeller also pointed to the significance of the license for Makah Bay.

�Today is historic as we enter a new energy frontier,� Moeller said. �For the first time, we allow the harnessing of electricity from wave energy-power that results from the gravitational pull of the moon.�

Finavera, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, plans to develop wave energy projects totaling more than 250 MW off the west coast of North America. Pacific Gas &Electric Co. announced Dec. 18 it agreed to buy electricity from Finavera's 2-MW Humboldt County Offshore Wave Energy project off the coast of northern California. (HNN 12/18/07)

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