Territorial Sea Plan approved in Oregon, saving room for wave energy
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
An approved Territorial Sea Plan, which sets policy for where renewable energy projects can be developed along the Oregon Coast, will provide certainty to the wave energy industry.
After three years of negotiation and hours of meetings, the Land Conservation and Development Commission voted Thursday to adopt a new Territorial Sea Plan for Oregon, a package of policies and maps that will govern how and under what conditions ocean renewable energy will be allowed to develop in state waters.
The upshot for the wave energy industry is this:
- Four sites along the Oregon coast have been designated as areas suited for renewable energy development, two that can accommodate near-shore wave energy technologies and two that are better for deepwater technologies.
- Those sites add up to about 2 percent of the territorial sea, about 25 square nautical miles.
- An additional 3 percent of coastal water may be made available to energy developers in the future.
- A total cap of 3 percent of territorial waters, about 36 square miles, was set for total renewable energy development.
Parties on all sides of sea plan debate — conservationists, the fishing industry, policymakers and wave energy developers — heralded the plan as a successful compromise.
"(The plan) strikes the correct balance between promoting the nascent ocean renewable energy industry and protecting the ocean and its users. Additionally, it provides a clear regulatory pathway for developers, and provides adequate space to support multiple technologies in areas specifically intended for wave energy development," said Jason Busch, executive director of the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, in a press release.
"Oregon has long been a leader in renewable energy development, and energy issues will have the single greatest impact on Oregon in the coming decade," said Gov. John Kitzhaber in a statement. "This balanced proposal shows Oregon can thoughtfully support this emerging and promising industry while protecting our coastal communities’ quality of life, our commercial and recreational fisheries, and a coastline that all Oregonians treasure."
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