Maine tidal pilot project not seeking new license

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The holder of a federal pilot license for a Maine tidal energy project has told regulators that it does not intend to relicense the project beyond the pilot license's expiration in 2022, pointing to tidal current velocities at the project site as inadequate to justify pursuing a commercial license.

At issue is the Cobscook Bay Tidal Project.  On February 27, 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a pilot project license to ORPC Maine, LLC for the project for a period of eight years.  Later that year, it became the first grid-tied commercial tidal power plant in the U.S.

The Commission later granted a subsequent request by ORPC to extend its license term for the Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project from eight years to ten years, until January 31, 2022.  In that order extending the pilot license term, the Commission noted "the experimental nature of hydrokinetic devices, the licensee’s dedication to expanding and improving the technology and design of its project, and the insignificant or no impact to the surrounding environment by extending the license term two years."

Because the FERC licensing process can take years to complete, licensees are required to make public filings between 5 and 5-and-a-half years in advance of license expiry.  On March 14, 2017, ORPC made such a filing.  In that March 14 letter, ORPC noted some project successes:
The Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy site has served a pivotal role in the advancement of ORPC’s technology specifically and the domestic marine hydrokinetic industry generally. ORPC anticipates that the project infrastructure in place, the environmental monitoring and data analysis efforts, resource information documentation, and collaborative relationships with existing marine users will continue through the duration of the existing pilot license term. With concurrence of the Project Adaptive Management Team, we will be testing new generations of system components and assembled systems at the project site and will keep FERC informed regarding these efforts.
But then ORPC noted an intent not to seek a commercial license for the project after the pilot license's expiration:
While the project site serves as an excellent testing area, ORPC considers the tidal current velocities at the Project site inadequate to justify pursuing a commercial license. Therefore ORPC does not intend to file a NOI or PAD for the Project at this time.
In a May 25, 2017 letter to the licensee, Commission staff characterized the licensee's March 14 filing as "a notice of intent not to relicense the Cobscook Bay Tidal Project," citing the licensee's position on tidal velocities, and noting the licensee's stated intent to continue operating the project until the pilot license expires on January 31, 2022.

No comments:

Post a Comment