Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson helps shepherd legislation through State Senate to better control wave energy projects. Next stop, State House.
SB 606A ensures that wave energy projects remain accountable to local communities
Information from Sen. Arnie Roblan
The Oregon Senate advanced a proposal that will provide accountability measures for Oregon Coast communities over wave energy projects. SB 606A, which passed on a unanimous vote, requires owners and operators of wave energy facilities to provide assurances for the costs and potential removal of wave energy devices located in Oregon’s Territorial Sea, giving counties and local governments more authority.
“We need to have a clear process for local governments, the state, and wave energy companies to build and maintain this new infrastructure along the coast,” said Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), chief sponsor of SB 606A. “Wave energy technology has the potential to provide new opportunities and good-paying jobs to the coast, but it is critically important that we have a standard process to deal with contingencies.”
Senate Bill 606A adopts requirements outlined in the Oregon Territorial Sea Plan, including a decision-making process concerning the development of renewable energy facilities located from zero to three nautical miles from shore. SB 606A requires wave energy facility owners to provide decommissioning and finance plans, which help ensure new facilities remain accountable to their local communities. These provisions ensure that ocean energy will be developed and decommissioned responsibly, while avoiding unnecessary burdens and costs for local governments.
“Creating sideboards around wave energy development will ultimately make it easier for communities to bring this renewable resource to their area,” said Roblan. “New technology can mean new economic opportunity for coastal Oregonians, but only if we safeguard that opportunity with a process that makes it sustainable for our communities in the long-term. This bill holds energy producers accountable for what they do along our coast.”
Provisions in the bill also direct the Oregon Department of Energy to study electricity transmission from wave energy facilities and devices in order to efficiently provide power to adjacent communities.
“I appreciate the Senator’s hard work and dedication to making this bill a collaborative effort that involved stakeholders from the coast,” said Lincoln County Commissioner Terry Thompson in response to passage of SB 606A.
“This is an excellent bill that is the result of hard work between all of the stakeholders,” said Jason Busch, executive director of Oregon Wave Energy Trust.
SB 606A will now go to the Oregon House of Representatives for consideration.
ANOTHER, POSSIBLY MORE POIGNANT PERSPECTIVE ON THE ISSUE:
Bill would force firms to remove wave-energy buoys
By JONATHAN J. COOPER
Oregon lawmakers don’t want the state to get stuck with the bill if a wave-energy company installs equipment off shore and then goes belly up.
The Senate voted unanimously Monday to require that companies experimenting with wave energy in Oregon’s territorial waters show they have enough money to recover their equipment when they’re done with it. They’d be required to remove the equipment within two years of decommissioning it.
The bill now goes to the House.
Oregon’s South Coast has been identified as a prime spot to research wave energy, which seeks to harness the power of off-shore waves to generate electricity.
Ocean Power Technologies, a Pennington, N.J. company seeking financing to build a wave-energy project off the coast of Reedsport, lost a buoy anchor and paid for the expensive search and recovery earlier this year. State Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, said he doesn’t want taxpayers on the hook for cleanup costs if other wind-energy equipment goes awry or the developer no-longer needs it.
“If it breaks loose or it eventually gets decommissioned, who’s responsible?” Roblan said. “We don’t think it would be the state.” Equipment left behind can be a hazard for navigation and fishing equipment, Roblan said, and cleanup costs could be in the millions of dollars.
Officials at Ocean Power Technologies did not respond to a request for comment.
The new restrictions apply only to wave energy projects within 3 miles of the Oregon coast, which is considered Oregon’s territorial sea and is subject to state regulation. Energy firms could be fined up to $1,000 a day if they don’t remove equipment within two years, although the Department of State Lands would be allowed to extend the deadline.
The measure also directs the Oregon Department of Energy to study the costs and benefits of consolidating transmission lines for off-shore projects, which could avoid the need for each farm of wave-capturing buoys to have its own transmission lines to shore.