A Newport advisory committee hoping to win a wave energy test site for Newport, laid out their cards for what they hope will be a winning hand when Oregon State University decides where to locate its wave energy testing site off the Oregon Coast.
The committee, made up of local fishermen, educators, scientists, local government leaders, a power company executive, economic development promoters and others, strategized how to beat out Reedsport for the prize of having OSU’s Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC) being located off Newport.
Oregon State University’s PMEC is in the process of choosing an offshore site to set up a wave energy testing station which will put a number of internationally developed wave energy devices through their paces by scientifically measuring their ability to generate power from wave motion as well as survive the vicious pounding of Pacific storms.
The Newport group was presented with a proposed site south of the Newport jetties and between five and six miles offshore. The area is said to be ideally suited for testing under conditions sought by wave energy device designers; having a sandy bottom and between 100 and 150 feet deep. The area is also well situated for routing power cables from the devices to energy grid connections on shore.
Despite the area being good Dungeness Crab habitat, fishermen say they are willing to let it go for testing, especially if it’ll stop any further fishing ground withdrawals for wave energy production off the Lincoln County coast. The fishermen, belonging to the group Fishermen Interested in Renewable Energy (FINE) said between marine reserves and other protected areas that ban commercial and recreational fishing, Lincoln County has given up nearly 20% of of it’s territorial seas, far more than any other section of the Oregon Coast.
In a letter written by the Lincoln County Commission to Governor John Kitzhaber commissioners said the site supported by FINE and other fishing interests was the result of collaborating with Dr. Belinda Batten, Director of OSU’s Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center. Commissioners said that Dr. Batten provided valuable input that enabled FINE to delineate the site for PMEC that meets key logistical features that OSU needs to optimize their research program.
However, Toledo Mayor Ralph Grutzmacher suggested the group not settle for the solitary site offered up by FINE but rather do a wider analysis of possible sites based on bottom characteristics and depths. The idea received a cool reception from many on the committee but was nonetheless included as a topic of discussion during the next committee meeting.
The group also talked about the search for Newport area facilities that could provide space for the creation of an OSU PMEC Visitors Center, office space for OSU scientists and private wave energy specialists and for additional warehouse or fabrication space for wave energy manufacturers.
The group is in competition with Reedsport for the creation of PMEC’s offshore test site as well as headquarters for the PMEC testing operation and support facilities. A decision by OSU is expected just after the first of the year.Share on Facebook