The Leading Edge

MMS, FERC collaborate on jurisdiction over ocean projects

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) is working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to resolve disagreement over which federal agency is responsible for permitting and licensing energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Ann Miles, director of the Division of Hydropower Licensing in FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, says the agencies have talked at high levels to set aside the dispute over jurisdiction. Miles says the agencies might work together on a memorandum of understanding, but there is no schedule for working out an agreement.

MMS raised the question of jurisdiction in January 2007, in a protest filed in FERC proceedings for a preliminary permit application for the 300-MW Coos County Offshore Wave Energy project. AquaEnergy Group Ltd. wants the permit to study the feasibility of a site several miles off the coast of Oregon.

MMS said portions of the Coos County project would be outside Oregon’s seaward boundary of 3 nautical miles. Therefore, MMS said, parts of the Oregon project would be situated on the OCS, subject to federal jurisdiction and control pursuant to the Federal Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

MMS said its protest is broader than simply a dispute of FERC’s authority to issue permits and licenses for wave energy projects on the OCS. It said it has serious environmental and ocean management concerns about FERC’s regulatory scheme under Federal Power Act (FPA) Part I as applied to such technologically distinct projects on the OCS.

The Interior Department’s Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance filed comments and recommendations January 30, 2007, for terms and conditions for any preliminary permit for the Coos County Offshore Wave Energy project. It expressed concerns about environmental effects of issuance and exercise of the preliminary permit, and for potential project-related effects, should a license for project construction and operation eventually be pursued.

In March 2007, MMS developed a preliminary draft programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) for alternative energy development and production and alternative use of facilities on the OCS. The programmatic EIS, which was available for comments through the end of May, is to evaluate issues associated with the program and alternative use project development, including potential monitoring, testing, commercial development, operations, and decommissioning activities in federal waters of the OCS.

Table 1: Tidal Energy Conversion Project Sites in U.S. and Canada Studied by EPRI
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The programmatic EIS is being developed concurrently with a proposed rulemaking on alternative energy uses of the OCS. The EIS will be used to establish initial measures to mitigate environmental consequences. Under the program, MMS would have jurisdiction over OCS projects, including wave, ocean current, offshore wind, offshore solar, and hydrogen generation energy.

The draft programmatic EIS and associated documents are on the Internet:

EPRI recommends locations for tidal projects in U.S., Canada

As much as 254 MW of new electricity could be tapped by developing seven tidal energy projects in North America, according to a new EPRI report. The projects are in the U.S. states of Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Washington, and in the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

EPRI published the report as part of its efforts to investigate the economics of in-stream tidal energy conversion in North America, as well as the technology available. EPRI began by evaluating different attributes of potential sites in these seven states and provinces that funded this study. From a short list of sites developed through the evaluation process, EPRI chose the largest in each state or province to perform more detailed analyses.

The largest site EPRI analyzed is 152-MW Minas Passage in Nova Scotia. (See Table 1on page 86.) EPRI determined that this site has the largest area and highest power density. Other sites identified, in order of size, are 35.5-MW Golden Gate in California, 17.4-MW Knik Arm in Alaska, 16-MW Tacoma Narrows in Washington, and 15.6-MW Western Passage in Maine. The two smallest sites were Head Harbor Passage in New Brunswick, with an extractable capacity of 6.5 to 15 MW, and 2-MW Muskeget Channel in Massachusetts.

In addition, the report provides an evaluation of available tidal energy conversion devices. To arrive at the monetary assessments in this report, EPRI designed a plant system using existing devices, then calculated annual energy output, initial installation cost, yearly operation and maintenance costs, and the cost of electricity.

– To read the complete report, North America Tidal In-Stream Energy Conversion Technology Feasibility Study, EPRI TP-008-NA, visit oceanenergy/streamenergy.html.

New council to meet at the Waterpower conference

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) announces a meeting of its new Ocean, Tidal and New Technologies Council. The meeting will be held Monday, July 23, 8 to 10 a.m., in Chattanooga, Tenn., in conjunction with the Waterpower XV Conference.

The council collaborates with NHA’s various committees to focus attention on the potential growth opportunities of new and emerging technologies. The council also provides a forum in which to discuss the various challenges faced by users of ocean, tidal, hydrokinetic, and emerging water technologies.

Areas of focus for the new council include:

Fund established to finance energy technologies for Ontario

The Canadian province of Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation offers financing for alternative energy technology demonstration activities at the pilot stage. The money comes from the province’s C$24 million (US$21.3 million) Innovation Demonstration

Fund (IDF). The fund will be available for four years.

To be eligible for financing, projects must be undertaken in the province of Ontario, Canada, with the goal of full-scale commercialization in the province. Funding proposals can be submitted on an ongoing basis.

IDF will provide financial support covering half of eligible costs for approved projects, up to a maximum amount. Funding ranges from C$100,000 (US$88,600) to C$4 million (US$3.5 million) per project. The applicant must fund the other half of project costs.

Expenses eligible for funding by IDF include:

– Start-up costs associated with development and design of prototypes;

– Equipment purchase, installation, and retrofitting costs;

– Direct labor costs for personnel involved in the project;

– Maintenance costs;

– Costs associated with the development of codes and standards and regulatory approvals;

– Costs associated with training of skilled resources and public awareness; and

– Monitoring and evaluation costs.

The fund is part of a C$160 million (US$141.7 million) “Ideas to Market Strategy” established by the government of Ontario.

– For more information or to apply for funding through the IDF, visit idf/guidelines.asp.

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