U.S., Maine coordinate hydrokinetic project review

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the state of Maine have signed a memorandum of understanding to coordinate procedures and schedules for reviewing hydrokinetic energy projects in state waters of Maine.

The agreement is the first of its kind on the East Coast. FERC has signed similar agreements with Washington (HydroWorld 6/5/09) and Oregon. (HydroWorld 3/28/08)

FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said the agreement is an important step to pursuing hydrokinetic technologies on the East Coast, reducing some regulatory barriers to developing the emerging forms of hydrokinetic technology.

Under terms of the accord, FERC and Maine agree:
o Each will notify the other when one becomes aware of a potential applicant for a preliminary permit, pilot project license, or license;
o The parties will agree upon a schedule for processing applications as early as possible, including milestones for FERC and Maine to complete their processes; they also will encourage other federal agencies and stakeholders to comply with the schedules;
o They will coordinate environmental reviews of any proposed projects and will consult with stakeholders, including project developers, on the design of studies and environmental matters;
o FERC will consider to what extent tidal projects are consistent with Maine’s pertinent comprehensive plans; and
o Maine agrees to take action on water quality certification for demonstration hydrokinetic projects within 60 days of acceptance of an application.

FERC said the memorandum ensures the governments will undertake their regulatory efforts in an environmentally sensitive manner that recognizes economic and cultural factors.

Maine previously enacted legislation to streamline and coordinate state permitting and leasing of submerged lands for renewable ocean energy projects. The state hopes to become an international proving ground for testing new technologies.

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