June 30, 2010 - how to get a FERC preliminary permit for your hydrokinetic project licensure

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today I provide a quick look at marine hydrokinetic energy projects and their permitting. Let's say you've been following this blog and have a great idea for a site to develop a hydrokinetic project. From a permitting perspective, the first step is to seek a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Preliminary permits, which are typically issued for up to three years, give the developer "guaranteed first-to-file status" -- basically, priority to study a project at the specified site for the duration of the permit. Preliminary permits don't authorize construction, but stake a developer's claim to study a given site.

After securing a preliminary permit, the next step in the FERC licensure process is to apply for a license to construct and operate a hydrokinetic electric generation facility. Licenses can be good for up to 30 - 50 years. If you're most interested in developing a pilot project -- for example to demonstrate proof-of-concept, or a pre-commercial development of new technology -- you can go through a special hydrokinetic pilot project licensure process. This more streamlined process can provide you with an easier path forward to project completion.

Here's a map (current as of March 2010) from FERC showing the locations of issued tidal, wave, and inland hydrokinetic preliminary permits.

In Maine, those permits are:
  • P-12704, Half Moon Tidal Energy, Tidewater Associates, Cobscook Bay
  • P-12711, Cobscook Bay Ocgen, ORPC Maine, LLC, Cobscook River
  • P-12680, Western Passage Ocgen, ORPC Maine, LLC, Atlantic Ocean
  • P-12777, Castine Harbor and Bagaduce Narrows, Maine Maritime Academy, Atlantic Ocean
  • P-12710, Passamaquoddy Tribe Hydrokinetic, Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point, Western Passage
  • P-13329, Town of Wiscasset Tidal Resources, Sheepscot River
  • P-13345, Homeowner Tidal Power Elec Gen, Shearwater Design Inc., Kennebec River 

Also pending in Maine is a preliminary permit application for:
  • P-13646, The Power Company, Damariscotta River

In coming days, I'll look at these projects in more detail. Who out there will be next to file for a preliminary permit?

Brief news roundup: in Farmingdale, Maine, where CMP acquired the former Kennebec Heights golf property and now plans to run transmission lines across the course, angry citizens packed a planning board meeting. Citizens didn't know that CMP was negotiating to acquire the course, and report feeling blindsided by a decision that they believe will lower their property values and municipal tax revenues.

The Lower Montsweag Dam removal project continues to be controversial. This Times-Record article describes how some Wiscasset citizens are worried that removing the dam will destroy valuable recreational space and a valuable backup to the town’s water supply, and that removing the dam will not actually result in the anticipated fish passage benefits.

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