Recently in ocean energy Category

EPA Issues Final Rule on Cooling Water Intake, Significantly Affecting Electric Power Generation and Water-Intensive Manfacturing

May 20, 2014

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") issued a Final Rule under Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act ("CWA") designed to reduce damage to aquatic organisms from entrainment or impingement in large cooling water intake structures. The rule covers facilities that are designed to withdraw more than two million gallons per day ("mgd") from "waters of the United States" and that withdraw at least 25% of their cooling water from those waters. EPA estimates the rule will cover more than 1,000 major facilities, about half of which are power plants and the other half manufacturing plants. Smaller facilities that do not meet the 2 mgd threshhold but are otherwise subject to the CWA will remain subject to Section 316(b), with specific requirements to be developed in a case-by-case basis.

In contrast to most other provisions of the CWA, which regulate discharges of pollutants, Section 316(b) regulates the intake of water. Section 316(b) requires that "the location, design, construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact." To carry out this statutory mandate, the Final Rule has three major features. First, facilities meeting the 2 mgd threshold are required to select one of seven design options for the cooling water intake structures in order to meet Section 316(b)'s "best technology available" requirement for minimizing damage to aquatic ecosystems. Second, facilities withdrawing very large quantities of water -- 125 mgd or more -- must conduct studies to help permitting authorities identify site-specific measures that meet Section 316(b)'s requirements.

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MOU Between FERC and the U.S. Coast Guard Promises To Simplify Licensing for Hydrokinetic Projects

March 13, 2013

Yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") and the U.S. Coast Guard ("USCG") released a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") designed to simplify and expedite the process of licensing hydrokinetic projects. Hydrokinetic technology, described by FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff as an "up and coming resource," includes projects designed to capture the energy of waves, tides, currents, and the free-flow of rivers and streams. The MOU will help coordinate the FERC licensing authority for non-federal hydropower projects with the USCG's authority to over navigation safety, maritime security, and stewardship of marine environmental resources.

The MOU requires applicants for a preliminary FERC hydrokinetic permit to notify the USCG, among other agencies. The USCG will then become a participant in FERC's pre-filing process, and will provide comments to the FERC and the applicant setting forth any concerns it has with a proposed project and identifying any needed studies. If a NEPA process is undertaken, FERC will be the lead agency, with the USCG providing input on, for example, scoping, as well as identifying any USCG concerns a regarding the project that should be considered in the environmental analysis process. The MOU also provides that, by participating in the NEPA process, the USCG agrees not to become a party to the licensing process.

Yesterday's MOU, along with guidelines issued jointly by FERC and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation & Enforcement last year for hydrokinetic projects on the Outer Continental Shelf, demonstrate that FERC intends to encourage hydrokinetic resources by reducing regulatory barriers to new hydrokinetic technologies.

If you have any questions about the MOU, FERC licensing, hydrokinetic technology, or other matters involving the development of renewable energy projects, please contact a member of GTH's Energy, Telecommunications, and Utilities practice group or Environment & Natural Resources practice group. These practice groups are consistently recognized as among the best, both nationally and in the Pacific Northwest.

Ocean Energy On the Move in the Northwest: Oregon Adopts New Rules, FERC Finds No Significant Environmental Impacts for Snohomish PUD's Admiralty Inlet Tidal Project

January 30, 2013

Several recent developments in Oregon and Washington suggest that ocean energy -- electric generation driven by wave and tidal action -- is about to step onto the renewable energy stage in the Pacific Northwest. These developments include important policy changes in Oregon and the achievement of a major milestone for Washington's most important tidal energy project.

In Oregon, the state's Land Conservation and Development Commission on January 24 adopted a major amendment of the Oregon Territorial Sea Plan that identifies four areas off the Oregon Coast where renewable energy development will be preferred. The sites, off Camp Rilea, Nestucca, Reedsport, and Lakeside, comprise approximately 25 square miles, about 2% of Oregon's territorial sea. Two of the sites are thought to be ideal for shallow-water technologies and two for deep-water technologies. The Plan also identifies areas where renewable energy development might be permitted if conflicts with existing uses can be avoided or mitigated. These areas comprises roughly 163 square miles, about 11% of Oregon's territorial sea. Finally, the Plan identifies areas that will remain off limits to ocean energy development due to potential conflicts with existing uses, sensitive ecosystems, and similar concerns.

The amendment has been in the making since 2008, when, faced with a proliferation of FERC preliminary permits for ocean energy exploration and development, then-Gov. Ted Kulongoski declared a moratorium on such development. Since that time, Oregon's Land Development and Conservation Commission has been engaged in an extensive public process to identify existing uses, environmentally-sensitive areas, and important scenic and recreational areas, with the aim of ensuring that ocean energy development does not compromise any of these values. The new amendment is the culmination of that process.

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Join Us At The Washington Energy Future Conference in November

October 24, 2012

Please join us at the Washington Smart Grid Forum and the Washington Future Energy Conference on November 13 and 14 in Seattle. We are pleased to announce that GTH partner Eric Christensen will be moderating a panel of experts at the Smart Grid Forum on November 13, which is one of three "In-Depth Focus Programs" that will be presented that day . GTH partner Durham McCormick will be speaking on Ownership and Finance Models for Distributed and Community Generation at the main Future Energy Conference on November 14.

The Future Energy Conference attracts a broad range of utility executives, power producers, developers, researchers, investors, and professionals interested in the latest developments from the region's burgeoning renewable energy and research economy. It is one of the best forums to learn about these emerging issues. GTH is therefore proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the Conference.

Portland General Issues RFP Seeking 101 MW of Renewable Capacity

October 3, 2012

On October 1, Portland General Electric ("PGE") issued a Request for Proposals ("RFP") seeking approximately 101 aWM of renewable generation. PGE is requiring the renewable generation to meet its obligation under the Oregon Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires PGE to obtain 15% of its energy from renewable resources starting in 2015. Hence, bids must be from resources that qualify as "renewable" under Oregon's RPS legislation. Such sources include solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal/ocean energy, as well as biomass, biogas, and hydroelectric power within specific limits.

PGE's prefers for its purchase obligations to commence at the end of 2015. However, bidders may submit proposals with deliveries commencing anywhere in the 2013-17 window. In addition, bidders may propose to sell PGE power under a traditional Power Purchase Agreement, or may propose a structured transaction in which PGE would take an ownership share of the generation resource.

PGE will submit its "benchmark" proposal -- that is, its self-build option, against which outside bids will be evaluated -- on October 30, 2012. Bidders will be required to submit their bids to PGE on November 13, 2012. By February 5, 2013, PGE aims to finalize the short list of bidders with whom it will then negotiate final contracts.

If you have any questions about the MOU and responding to PGE's need for renewable energy, please contact a member of GTH's Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology practice group. We have years of experience in the energy industry, electricity, project development, financing, licensing, and related fields.

New Guidelines May Aid Ocean Energy Development

July 21, 2012

At its July 19 meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") issued guidelines developed jointly with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management ("BOEM" -- formerly the Minerals Management Service) designed to clarify jurisdiction and streamline the permitting process for marine hydrokinetic energy resources, that is, generation devices driven by waves or ocean currents. Marine hydrokinetic resources may be subject to both FERC and BOEM jurisdiction if located on the Outer Continental Shelf ("OCS"), the offshore area under federal control, which generally includes all submerged lands lying three nautical miles or more from the shore to the outer extent of federal jurisdiction, generally 200 miles offshore. The guidelines provide important waypoints for project developers attempting to navigate the complex legal regimes governing electric power development on the OCS.

While FERC's hydro licensing jurisdiction is generally thought of as covering hydroelectric dams on rivers and streams, in fact, any private developer constructing an electric generation project on navigable waters of the United States, or which is interconnected to the interstate grid, is required to obtain a FERC permit under Part I of the Federal Power Act. A developer is also required to obtain a lease from BOEM if its project will produce energy and involves any attachment of a structure or device to the seabed on the OCS, whether temporary or permanent. As a practical matter, this means that nearly every electric generation project located on the OCS will require both a FERC license and a BOEM lease.

In certain respects, the FERC and BOEM legal regimes do not easily co-exist. For example, BOEM leases are generally granted based on competitive bidding, while FERC is required to grant a hydroelectric license to the entity that, in its judgment, is best suited to the comprehensive development of a particular site. In making this judgment, FERC must take into account a number of factors, including giving preference to state and municipal entities. The new FERC-BOEM guidelines, which build on a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies signed in April 2009, attempt to simplify and clarify the relationship between these two legal regimes, at least to the extent that can be accomplished without Congressional action.

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