This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 25, 2007

FERC Aims to Simplify Licensing for Wave and Tidal Pilot Projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is considering an expedited licensing process for pilot projects involving wave and tidal energy technologies. As noted by FERC, wave and tidal energy technologies are in a developmental phase, presenting significant risks for developers because of a limited access to financing and a lack of information about the engineering and environmental performance of the technologies. To help advance those technologies, FERC is proposing a licensing process for pilot projects that could be completed within six months. The process would be available for pilot projects that are testing new technologies or determining appropriate sites for larger facilities. The pilot projects must be five megawatts or smaller in capacity, located in waters that have no sensitive designations, and removable or able to shut down on relatively short notice. The pilot projects could still be connected to the power grid, both for study purposes and as a source of revenue. FERC will convene a technical conference in Portland, Oregon, on October 2nd to review the licensing proposal. See the FERC press release.

Photo of four hardhat workers at the edge of a barge laden with heavy equipment, using a guide rope to help lower a turbine into the water. The turbine has a cylindrical body with three blades mounted toward one end and an oval base mounted to the bottom near the other end, and is suspended from a crane.

This photo from December 2006 shows a turbine being lowered into the East River for the Roosevelt Island project.
Credit: Kris Unger/Verdant Power, Inc.

Wave and tidal energy projects are moving forward in several U.S. locations. In June, officials in New York announced that a tidal energy system on the bed of the East River had started generating power for Roosevelt Island, which is part of the borough of Manhattan. The Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) project was built by Verdant Power, Inc. and features six 35-kilowatt axial-flow turbines that are now generating 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day. The project is providing power to a supermarket and a parking garage on the island. Meanwhile, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in California is working with the City and County of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Energy Company to explore tidal power options in San Francisco Bay, and the Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) in Washington State is examining seven possible tidal energy sites along its coast. See the press releases from New York City and PG&E, the Verdant Power Web site, the Snohomish County PUD Web site, and the full list of issued and pending permits and licenses on the FERC "Hydrokinetics" Web page.

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