Oregon wave energy project surrenders license

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Ocean waves contain tremendous amounts of energy that could be harnessed by humans -- but difficulties have led a pilot project proposed off the Oregon coast to surrender a key federal license.

Calm waters along the shore of Penobscot Bay, Maine.

Ocean Power Technologies subsidiary Reedsport OPT Wave Park, LLC had proposed a wave energy project in the Pacific Ocean off the central Oregon coast.  In 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a license for the project.  That license authorized the developer to install a single "PowerBuoy" wave energy converter for testing, followed by additional grid-connected buoys.  The developer also envisioned a third phase that could bring the project's capacity to 50 megawatts, and secured a preliminary permit from the Commission to study the site.
Despite securing these key regulatory approvals, the Reedsport project quickly ran into technical difficulties.  Reedsport began construction of the project in September 2012, by installing a single floating gravity based anchor and auxiliary subsurface buoy.  However, this first phase of the project was unsuccessful and the auxiliary buoy sank.  Reedsport removed the buoy and associated tendon and outer mooring lines from the project area on October 17, 2013.  On February 28, 2014, Ocean Power Technologies notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that it intended to surrender its preliminary permit for the 50 megawatt third phase, but left the first phase's license in place for the moment.
On May 30, 2014, Reedsport filed an application to surrender its license for project, stating that financial and regulatory challenges in developing the project have forced it to conclude that it cannot proceed with the development of the project.  The Commission accepted that license surrender by order dated August 14, to be effective following confirmation of the project's decommissioning.
With the Reedsport project shelved, no wave energy project currently holds a FERC license.  Several tidal projects have been licensed, one wave-based hydrokinetic project has secured a preliminary permit, and two other wave energy projects have pending applications for preliminary permits.  The ocean remains a demanding environment, and the economics of most wave energy projects are challenging.  Will others succeed where Reedsport OPT has not?

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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