Featured Law Firm Memo: “BOEM and FERC Issue Revised Guidelines for Offshore Hydrokinetic Energy Development” from Perkins Coie

Photo by photo fiddler. Some rights reserved.

Earlier this week, Perkins Coie published an Environment, Energy, & Resources memo that gives a basic overview of licensing issues for those interested in developing hydrokinetic projects – including wave, tidal, and ocean current projects – on the Outer Continental Shelf.  (The “OCS” is the part of the internationally recognized continental shelf of the United States which does not fall under the jurisdictions of the individual U.S. states.)

Who can hold a lease and license for a hydrokinetic project on the OCS?

Under the Federal Power Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a U.S. citizen or association of U.S. citizens, a corporation organized under the laws of the U.S. or any state, or a state or municipality may seek a lease or license to develop a hydrokinetic project. A lease is required if the project will be located on the OCS, will support the production, transportation or transmission of energy, and will involve attaching a structure or device to the seabed. All nonfederal hydrokinetic projects also require a FERC license, except for those projects that receive a limited testing lease from BOEM and are short-term, experimental or educational, or projects that will not transmit electricity to the grid. FERC may also grant certain waivers or modifications to allow for the expedited processing of a pilot project license if the project is small, short term, or not located in sensitive areas, among other factors. Pilot project licenses may be transitioned to standard licenses.

The memo comes on the heels of a recently released set of guidelines released by BOEM and FERC, which replace existing guidelines from 2009, and were developed as part of a Memorandum of Understanding between FERC and the Department of the Interior that same year.

In related news, word came from the Department of Energy about a week ago that Maine had deployed the first U.S. Commercial tidal energy project. You can read more about the Cobscook Bay project on developer Ocean Renewable Power Company’s website.

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