Interior, FERC sign Outer Continental Shelf pact

The heads of the Interior Department and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission signed an agreement April 9 clarifying their agencies’ jurisdictional responsibilities for regulating renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff signed the memorandum of understanding clearing the way for developing wind, solar, wave, tidal, and ocean current energy sources. (HNN 3/18/09)

�President Obama is committed to a comprehensive energy plan that will generate millions of clean energy jobs, break our dependence on foreign oil, and reduce the threat of deadly pollution,� Salazar said.

�By removing all the regulatory barriers to the development of hydrokinetic energy in the Outer Continental Shelf, this agreement will advance the development of a promising renewable resource that in the end will benefit consumers,� Wellinghoff added.

Interior and FERC announced March 17 they would cooperate to regulate renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf, with FERC retaining authority over ocean power projects. The National Hydropower Association and the Hydropower Reform Coalition sent a letter to Wellinghoff and Salazar applauding the agencies’ commitment to resolve the dispute over siting and licensing ocean energy projects. (HNN 3/31/09)

Under the agreement, the Interior Department will have jurisdiction over non-hydrokinetic offshore energy, such as wind and solar energy projects, while FERC will oversee offshore projects that generate electricity from wave and tidal currents.

However, the agreement provides that MMS has exclusive jurisdiction to issue leases, easements, and rights of way regarding Outer Continental Shelf lands for hydrokinetic projects. FERC will not issue a license or exemption for an OCS hydrokinetic project until the applicant first has obtained a lease, easement, or right of way from MMS for the site. FERC will not issue preliminary permits for OCS projects.

The memorandum of understanding may be obtained from FERC’s Internet site at www.ferc.gov/legal/maj-ord-reg/mou/mou-doi.pdf.

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