FERC says 1-MW Makah Bay wave project can begin construction

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission declared March 20 that Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy Ltd. obtained all necessary approvals and can begin building the 1-MW Makah Bay Offshore Wave Pilot Project off the coast of Washington state.

FERC denied rehearing requests by the Washington Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, and the Makah Tribe, who contested FERC’s December 2007 order issuing a conditional license for the project (No. 12751). (HNN 2/4/08)

Washington Ecology had asked FERC to rescind the license �- the commission’s first license order granted to a hydrokinetic energy project. It argued FERC could not issue a license for the project before the applicant obtained necessary state permits and authorizations.

FERC responded that point was moot, as the state issued necessary permits Feb. 25. FERC also said a conditioned license does not authorize construction or installation, and expressly stated that no such authority would be granted until Finavera obtained all necessary authorizations, which it now has obtained.

Unlike standard hydropower licenses, which cannot be issued until all terms and conditions are submitted by state and federal resource agencies, FERC has said it plans to issue conditional hydrokinetic project licenses quickly, without waiting for authorizations from other agencies. However, the hydrokinetic licenses are to be conditioned to prevent a licensee from actually starting construction until it obtains all necessary authorizations.

In their rehearing requests, the Washington Department of Natural Resources and Makah Tribe also expressed concerns about mandatory conditioning authority of the Sanctuary Program Group, because the project occupies part of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. FERC found the Sanctuary Program Group does not have mandatory conditioning authority, but chose generally to adopt the group’s recommended measures.

Finavera is studying the feasibility of a number of hydrokinetic projects, including 100-MW Humboldt County Offshore Wave Energy (No. 12753) in the Pacific Ocean northwest of Trinidad, Calif. FERC issued a preliminary permit for that project in February. (HNN 2/20/08)

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