Oregon agency: Wave energy possible in four areas

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The state of Oregon has adopted a plan laying out four areas for siting wave energy projects so they avoid interfering with fishing, scenic vistas and sensitive marine habitats.

The Land Conservation and Development Commission adopted the amendments to the Oregon Territorial Sea Plan at a meeting in Salem on Thursday. The plan, five years in the making, covers state territorial waters extending three miles off the coastline.

“This balanced proposal shows Oregon can thoughtfully support this emerging and promising industry while protecting our coastal communities’ quality of life, our commercial and recreational fisheries, and a coastline that all Oregonians treasure,” Gov. John Kitzhaber said in a statement.

Oregon has invested more than $10 million in the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, which funds research and projects to speed development of wave energy in Oregon.

The Oregon coast has become a hotspot for wave power research and development. Waves are bigger on the West Coast than the East Coast by virtue of the prevailing westerly winds, and waves get bigger the farther they are from the equator.

Two of the areas are off Reedsport, where Ocean Power Technologies of Pennington, N.J., has the nation’s first federal permit to build a wave energy park. The company planned to deploy the first of 10 buoys this spring. The project would generate electricity for about 1,000 homes from the motion of the waves.

Another site south of Warrenton would be reserved for a project to generate power for the Camp Rilea Military Reservation. One south of Garibaldi would be restricted to technologies that rest on the ocean bottom, to avoid interfering with fishing by the Pacific City dory fleet.

“No other state has anything like this for ocean development,” said Susan Allen, director of Our Ocean, part of the Pew Environmental Group. She was a member of an advisory group for the plan.

“Ocean users wanted to shape where (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) would allow renewable energy planning. We spent a long time identifying all the important economic, ecological and cultural areas,” where development would not be allowed.

The plan goes to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for approval. Then it will be used by FERC in making decisions on wave energy projects.

The plan does not include a location for the Pacific Marine Energy Center, where Oregon State University and the University of Washington plan to build a wave energy testing center. Located about five miles off shore, that site is outside state territorial waters.

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