Project May Get Waved Off In New Jersey
Here's yet another example of how conflicting regulatory policies and a propensity for overregulating even temporary prototype projects threatens to stifle ocean development. This article,
Project to use wave energy offshore to generate power , Todd Bates, Asbury Park Press (03/13/05) reports on the PowerBuoys, made by Ocean Power Technologies Inc. of Pennington, New Jersey which convert wave energy into electricity. According to the article,
OPT hopes to anchor one several miles off Tuckerton by the end of next month as part of a $500,000 demonstration project funded by the state Board of Public Utilities, according to company and BPU officials. The testing of the buoy system would last three months.
Guess what? Even testing a demo project these days isn't as easy as it ought to be. First, the article states that environmental activists said the upcoming demonstration project off Tuckerton appears to lack regulatory review, especially since acting Gov. Codey has imposed a 15-month moratorium on offshore windmills (for more information about the moratorium and offshore wind, see Mr. Bates' companion article, DEP Sees Conflict in Using Oceans for Turbines, Asbury Park Press (3/14/05).
New Jersey DEP officials state that they believe that the project would need a state waterfront development permit or a determination on whether it is consistent with the state's coastal zone management program. OPT acknowleges that Coast Guard permission is required as well as navigation aids for the buoys - but does not believe a state permit is needed. Moreover, though it is not clear whether the buoys will generate power during the testing phase, if the project ever begins to generate, FERC will likely come assert jurisdiction as well.
There's simply no way to advance ocean technology in the United States unless developers can easily test demo projects and gather data on operation and environmental impacts. The regulation that New Jersey seeks to inflict on a three month test of a few tiny buoys in a huge expanse of ocean will force these projects to sink rather than swim.