REEDSPORT -- The developer of a wave energy project off the coast of Oregon near Reedsport is scaling back its plan, but not scrapping it.
New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies had at one time proposed as many as 100 electricity-producing buoys, producing 50 megawatts of power, but surrendered the permit with the federal government.
"OPT had a preliminary FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) permit for the 50-megawatt project, but it just wasn't able to meet the milestones and complete that," said Kevin Watkins, the Oregon representative for OPT. "So it surrendered that permit last Friday."
Watkins said the company still intends to develop wave energy off the coast.
"OPT embarked on an ocean wave energy project off the coast of Reedsport," he said. "In its initial iteration it was a three-phase project. Phase one was the deployment of a single buoy, and that would be used to gather information and kind of fine tune the development work for an additional nine buoys. All those buoys would then be electrically interconnected at the Reedsport substation, which is actually at the abandoned IP (International Paper) mill."
Watkins said the ultimate goal of the scaled-back project would be 1.5 megawatts. He said they're shooting for a goal of a first buoy next summer.
"The schedule is currently to have a single buoy deployed in the summer of 2015," he said. "And, per the FERC permit, we have to have the remaining nine buoys deployed and electrically connected by the summer of 2017."
He said reports of the project being completely abandoned were not correct.
Questioned on his confidence for meeting the schedule for its first buoy next year, Watkins said, "We're pulling out all the stops. We're devoting all the limited resources that we have to get that done. We've been working closely with several state agencies and several agencies to get that done. There's a lot that needs to fall into place."
He said the company has a comprehensive 24-month schedule in place, and will hold a series of meetings next week to get comments from the state and federal government.
Chris Castelli, a senior policy advisor for the Oregon Department of State Lands, said the department, which has jurisdiction of the "territorial sea" out to 3 miles, is proceeding slowly.
"At this time we have only authorized the deployment of one 'non-grid-' connected power buoy," he said. "They have applied for an ocean energy lease to put 10 out, but we've never gone any farther than the discussions of the 10. It doesn't change much for us at this point."