Scotland-based Aquamarine Power, as well as other wave energy firms, may be hitting a rather large speed bump as they try to transform portions of Oregon’s near-shore coastlines into power generating stations.
Immediately after an Aquamarine Power spokeswoman outlined her company’s plans to begin wave testing this Summer and to be actively generating power with their “Oyster 2″ system by 2013, the Newport Planning Commission, the Lincoln County Planning Commission and several natural resource managers suggested Aquamarine’s timeline might be a bit too ambitious. They said state and local officials need to carefully assess the impacts any green energy generation may have on the coast, including commercial and sports fishing, tourism, recreation and scenic preservation.
Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association Executive Director Onno Husing urged Aquamarine and the planning commissions to recognize that the next year will be critical as coastal city and county officials and their residents begin to formulate a plan to account for environmental and economic impacts any development may have on the coast, including green energy production. He raised the issue of Aquamarine constructing a series of half-mile long arrays of their “Oyster 2″ energy generators in 35 to 45 feet of water. Onno asked what impacts might that have on crab fishing or sports fishing? How would a number of these wave energy machines lining the coastlline change the scenic values of the Oregon Coast? Change erosion or beach sand patterns? And what about wave energy equipment failure or maintenance issues? What would the timelines be for repair and/or removal of equipment?
Husing and others urged Aquamarine and all other green-energy ocean operations to wait until the state’s near-shore master plan is complete which is estimated to be at least a year away. He said it would be in everyone’s interest to slow things down so no one gets painfully surprised when the final plan comes out. Likewise, he said, the plan may provide energy development opportunities that no one’s thought about.
The planning commissions were urged to prompt the Newport City Council and the Lincoln County Commission to elicit public input and to contribute to the state’s near-shore master planning process.
Both commissions appeared to agree with that suggestion.
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