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Minerals service invites competition for ocean energy research

The Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service has designated five priority areas on the Outer Continental Shelf for alternative energy research including ocean energy projects.

Within those areas, in federal waters off five states, MMS said applications for six ocean current, two wave energy, and ten wind energy research projects might go forward. It called for comments by May 19 to determine if there are any competitors for the sites or any conflicting environmental or commercial factors.

MMS said it received more than 40 nominations for alternative energy research projects in response to a November 2007 announcement that it would offer limited leases for ocean data collection and testing. (HNN 11/7/07) MMS said it chose the 16 potential ocean and wind projects within the five areas offshore of California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. The remaining nominations are still under consideration, MMS said.

The agency said it has not made final decisions to award leases in the five areas. Before doing so, MMS said it must determine if competitive interest exists for research in the areas. It also must evaluate other information, such as environmental factors and commercial activities.

Leases would not include commercial development

MMS said leases would allow resource assessment and technology testing, but would grant no priority right for future commercial development.

�Conveyance of full commercial development rights would entail a much lengthier and complicated process than MMS is willing to undertake at this time under the interim policy,� it said.

Florida areas named for ocean current research

MMS said it chose proposed lease locations off the coast of Florida because the data collection and technology testing activities relate to ocean currents. An MMS spokesman said Florida Atlantic University Center for Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology proposed projects within the area. The center's partners include developers and companies such as Oceaneering, Ocean Power Technologies, Ocean Renewable Power Corp., and Verdant Power.

PG&E sites off California named for wave research

MMS said it chose two proposed leasing locations in northern California, offshore of Humboldt and Mendocino counties, because the data collection and technology testing activities involve ocean wave activities. The areas were nominated for energy resource assessment and technology testing of WaveConnect projects proposed by Pacific Gas &Electric Co. (HNN 12/18/07)

PG&E has obtained preliminary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the projects, 40-MW PG&E Humboldt WaveConnect (No. 12779) and 40-MW Mendocino WaveConnect (No. 12781). It also applied to the California Public Utilities Commission for funds to conduct studies related to the projects, MMS said.

MMS published a Federal Register notice April 18 inviting individuals and organizations with competitive interest in the nominated projects to comment by May 19. MMS said it would accept public comments on the proposed lease areas for 60 days. The notice, Docket No. MMS-2008-OMM-0020, is on the Internet at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-8387.htm.

Comments can be filed through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov or mailed to Minerals Management Service, Offshore Minerals Management, Alternative Energy and Alternate Use Team, 381 Elden St., Herndon, VA 20170-4817. For information, contact Maureen Bornholdt at the above address, Mail Stop 4080; (1) 703-787-1300.

MMS is preparing final regulations for the Outer Continental Shelf Alternative Energy and Alternate Use program in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005. (HNN 3/3/08) It plans to publish those regulations by the end of 2008. A memorandum of understanding between MMS and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission resolving a question of jurisdictional issues has stalled. (HNN 12/4/07)

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