Regulator rejects contract for 2-MW California wave project

The California Public Utilities Commission has rejected Pacific Gas &Electric Co.’s proposed contract to purchase electricity from the 2-MW Humboldt County Offshore Wave Energy project.

PG&E signed an agreement with developer Finavera Renewables Inc. in December 2007 to purchase power from the project, proposed for a site 2.5 miles off the coast of northern California. (HNN 12/18/07)

The Public Utilities Commission said Oct. 16 it found Humboldt — the first wave technology project submitted to the PUC for approval — is not viable. The commission said Finavera’s bid did not compare favorably to other bids in a 2006 PG&E renewable energy solicitation. It also found the contract price to be unreasonable.

�Through this PPA, PG&E wants to assist in accelerating the commercialization of this technology,� the PUC said. �The commission supports PG&E’s efforts to commercialize new technologies; however, considering that this particular technology is in such an early stage, we find that approving this PPA at this time is not the best way to move this wave technology toward commercialization.�

Finavera Chief Executive Officer Jason Bak called the PUC’s decision out of step with federal policy, and with other state and city initiatives. He pointed to passage of the federal Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, which expands the list of renewables eligible for production tax credits to include ocean, tidal, and in-stream hydrokinetic technologies. (HNN 10/3/08)

�Jurisdictions such as Oregon, Washington, the city of San Francisco, New York, and New Jersey, have all created initiatives to accelerate the development and deployment of marine renewables, in conjunction with the leadership of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Minerals Management Service,� Bak said Oct. 24.

Finavera holds FERC’s first operating license for a wave energy project, 1-MW Makah Bay Offshore Wave Pilot (No. 12751), off the coast of Washington. (HNN 7/4/08)

Finavera reports it is exploring other options in California and with PG&E. It holds a preliminary permit to study developing a larger, 100-MW Humboldt County Offshore Wave Energy project (No. 12753) in the Pacific Ocean. (HNN 2/20/08) Finavera plans to continue its study of the larger project, a company officer said.

Additionally, Finavera, of Vancouver, British Columbia, reports it is investigating alternatives for optimal financing for research and development of wave energy, including formation of a private consortium. Such a strategy, it said, could diversify the technology risk while simultaneously attracting funding specific to early stage research and development initiatives.

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