NYC tidal project asks for more time

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The holder of a pilot license for a hydrokinetic energy project under development off New York City has asked federal regulators for a 5-year extension of the license term, and has signaled its intent to relicense the project.

At issue is Verdant Power's Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project, located in the tidal East Channel of the East River between Manhattan and Long Island. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued Verdant Power a 10-year pilot project license on January 23, 2012. The license describes a phased project, starting with deployment of three 35-kW hydrokinetic turbine-generator systems, and ultimately capable of scaling up to a total of 30 turbines, for a total nameplate capacity of 1,050 kilowatts. Hydrokinetic projects generate electricity from waves or directly from the flow of water in ocean currents, tides, or inland waterways, generally without creating new dams or impoundments.

The RITE Project's pilot license was the first to be issued by the Commission through a special hydrokinetic pilot project licensing process which it designed to let developers test technologies and sites without compromising the Commission’s oversight of the projects or limiting agency and stakeholder input. As defined by the Commission, a pilot project license authorizes the construction, operation, and maintenance of an original (i.e., unconstructed) hydrokinetic project that is:
  1. small (5 megawatts or less);
  2. easily removed or shut down quickly;
  3. located in a non-sensitive area; and
  4. has the primary purpose of testing new technologies or locating suitable generation sites.
Since the RITE Project's pilot license issued, Verdant says it has taken steps including maintaining a control room and ancillary equipment, conducting an in-water test of turbine rotor components, beta-tested environmental equipment, and beginning environmental monitoring as required by its license.

But the licensee would like more time. According to a letter filed with the Commission on December 29, 2017, "Verdant Power is poised to install the first phase of the licensed Pilot Project (Install B-1) in the 2019-20 timeframe. This installation will represent a significant milestone in the advancement of hydrokinetic energy in the US." In that letter, Verdant requested a 5-year extension of its pilot license. Also on December 29, Verdant Power submitted a document it described as its notice of intent to apply for a new license for the RITE project.

The docket remains open before the Commission.

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