Surfrider staff is frequently asked if we have any intel on when the Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) Reedsport wave energy project will be installed. With varying levels of information publicly available, and rumors running rampant, we thought it would be a good idea to share some of the recent info we have received.
Oregon Surfrider staff and members have been very interested and actively involved in planning efforts since initial discussions began for the Reedsport wave energy project way back in 2006. We were a signatory to the Reedsport Settlement Agreement as we felt the environmental research being done and the adaptive management process that would be employed was beneficial for future projects in other parts of the coast.
Last August, the first of three anchors to secure the initial buoy was deployed, but further work was halted before the encroaching inclement fall weather set in due to rumored technical challenges while deploying the first anchor. Then sometime during the Winter, the surface marker buoy which was in place to alert other mariners and fishermen went missing. During that same time, the Land Conservation and Development Commission approved Oregon's amended Territorial Sea Plan after much hard work and stakeholder engagement over 5 years. Since the OPT got it's license approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) before the Plan was adopted, they were essentially grandfathered in, even though the area in which they are hoping to develop happens to be right in the middle of some prime crabbing grounds. A minor, but significant nuance of the Territorial Sea Plan is that if OPT relinquishes their FERC permit for the Reedsport/Gardiner site, then the site would not be available as a renewable energy study area in the future.
After the surface marker buoy was replaced, it mysteriously went missing again this summer and has been the source of hang up for at least one commercial salmon troller who lost all of their gear to the anchor. Read more about some of the technical and logistical challenges that the project had encountered in this recent article in the Oregonian.
Below is a letter from Department of State Lands (DSL) Director Mary Abrams to OPT and the rationale on DSL granting an extension of time for removing the subsurface buoy and tendon line and the submittal of financial assurance plan. DSL granted the lease to OPT for the use of the seafloor.
"DSL has received the information requested from OPT concerning their financial assurance and a contract to remove their subsurface buoy and tendon line from the Reedsport site by the end of September. After reviewing this information, DSL has granted them the requested extension (see attached). Although less than ideal, providing OPT an extension to remove the equipment under these conditions is the much quicker than having them default which would have given an automatic 20 days period to correct their deficiencies before DSL could have taken over the removal process.
Once OPT has removed the buoy and line, they intend to turn to the task of removing the anchor. DSL considered the anchor removal less urgent since it is firmly on the bottom as planned so we agreed to have them stage the complete removal process.
DSL is aware that the marker buoy has again gone missing and that OPT plans to have that replaced by next week."