Edgartown's Muskeget tidal project faces questions

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A municipal tidal power project proposed for the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard faces federal deadlines if its licensing process is to continue.  The Muskeget Channel Tidal Energy Project, proposed by the Town of Edgartown, is seeking a pilot project license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -- but faces questions from Commission staff.

On February 1, 2011, the Town of Edgartown filed, pursuant to the Commission’s pilot licensing procedures, a draft license application for the proposed Muskeget Channel Tidal Energy Project.  The project would feature an array of 14 marine hydrokinetic tidal turbines, with a commercial generating capacity of 5 megawatts or less.

But that license application remains incomplete.  On April 1, 2011, Commission staff issued a letter requesting that Edgartown provide additional information, including details about the proposed project and multiple plans, drawings, and reports.  Over the ensuing years, Edgartown filed some responsive information, but according to the Commission, Edgartown did not file the remaining information by the deadline or provide a schedule indicating when the information would be filed after the deadline was missed.

Over two years after the deadline, on April 21, 2016, Commission staff issued a letter requiring Edgartown to show cause, within 30 days, why Commission staff should not terminate the prefiling licensing process for the project.  According to the Commission, Edgartown did not respond, but Congressman William Keating asked the Commission to extend the show cause deadline until the Massachusetts Clean Energy Commission decides whether to award the project a grant.

In a June 2 letter, Commission staff directed Edgartown to, within 30 days, provide a schedule specifying when it will file with the Commission each of the outstanding items requested in Commission staff’s April 1, 2011 letter.  The letter says, "Upon receipt of this information, Commission staff will make a determination on how to proceed with the incomplete application for the Muskeget Channel Tidal Energy Project."  For now, the prelicensing process for the Muskeget tidal project remains pending.

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