The Surfrider Foundation today joined over a dozen government agencies, ocean stakeholder groups, and environmental organizations in signing a historic settlement agreement with Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) in support of the construction and operation of the Reedsport OPT Wave Park.
The Reedsport OPT Wave Park is expected to be the first commercial-scale wave energy project in the United States, pending licensing from the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC). Phases I and II of the project will consist of ten PowerBuoys installed 2.5 miles off the coast of Reedsport, OR.
The parties to the settlement agreement participated in a three-year process to develop consensus on aspects of project design, required monitoring, and contingencies for adaptive management. The Surfrider Foundation has served as a formal representative of recreational and environmental interests throughout the process.
“We believe this represents a really good approach for the development of wave energy technology,” said Pete Stauffer, Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Ecosystem Program Manager. “Incorporating good science and meaningful stakeholder involvement in the planning and management of wave energy projects is in the best interests of nearshore ecosystems and coastal communities.”
The Reedsport settlement agreement defines a precautionary approach to development of the Wave Park that is intended to minimize impacts to the nearshore environment and existing ocean uses such as recreation and fishing. An adaptive management program that includes monitoring of ecological and socioeconomic effects will inform the management and further build-out of the project.
The Surfrider Foundation recognizes that technologies utilizing ocean waves, tides, currents and wind may offer important benefits as renewable sources of energy that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. They may also help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and the dangerous practice of offshore oil drilling.
The Surfrider Foundation has developed a policy statement on renewable ocean energy, which includes a set of principles to consider during the planning or evaluation of any proposed project. Employing these principles may help reduce impacts to ocean recreation, nearshore ecology, coastal processes, public safety, aesthetics, and fishing access.