FERC denies tidal pilot license extension

Thursday, May 3, 2018

U.S. hydropower regulators have denied a request to extend the term of the country's first hydrokinetic project pilot license, instead holding that the original license's 10-year term should be enough time for the developer to complete testing and to decide whether to apply for a subsequent license.

At issue is Verdant Power, LLC's  Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy Project No. 12611 (RITE Project). The 1,050-kilowatt hydrokinetic tidal project site is located in the East River near New York City. In 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the project a "pilot project license" under a newly developed process designed to allow entities to test new hydrokinetic technologies, identify appropriate sites, and confirm the technology's environmental or other effects. That pilot license allowed the construction, operation, and maintenance of the RITE Project for a 10-year period, expiring on December 31, 2021.

In 2017, the company described plans to install the pilot project's first phase in the 2019-2020 timeframe. On December 29, 2017, Verdant filed a request to extend the term of its pilot license for the RITE project by five years, to give it more time to acquire operational monitoring data that will inform subsequent phases of the pilot project and the relicense application.

But by order dated May 3, 2018, the Commission denied Verdant's request for a license extension. The Commission noted that the pilot license bore a 10-year term, twice as long Commission staff's original conceptions of hydrokinetic pilot project licenses for up to 5-year terms for testing purposes. The Commission noted, "Barring extraordinary circumstances, 10 years – double the period set forth in the white paper – should be enough time to complete a testing program and to make a decision on whether to file an application for subsequent license. Verdant has not demonstrated such circumstances."

Noting the remaining time left on Verdant's license, as well as the time left to Verdant before any application for a new license, the Commission denied the company's request for a license extension.

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