Governor Kitzhaber today thanked the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission for moving forward on a decision to adopt an amendment to Oregon's Territorial Sea Plan. LCDC members approved the amendment, which will allow for future siting of marine renewable energy development projects, at an all-day public meeting yesterday, January 24.
"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 Governor Kitzhaber. "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."
With the LCDC's decision, Oregon's Territorial Sea Plan now guides the siting of wave energy and other forms of marine renewable energy to areas that pose the least conflict with existing ocean uses and natural resources. The Territorial Sea Plan amendment adopted by LCDC identifies four "Renewable Energy Suitability Study Areas" where initial development of wave energy will be encouraged. When specific projects are proposed, developers will have to show that they will meet standards for protecting ecological resources, fishing and other existing uses, and coastal views. Marine renewable energy developers can also seek approval for projects in other areas off Oregon's coast, but will have to meet more stringent standards.
Oregon's Territorial Sea Plan covers state waters extending three miles out from the shoreline. The plan was developed over more than three years, with dozens of public meetings along the coast. LCDC's decision was informed by the recommendations of the Oregon Ocean Policy Advisory Council, which advises the Governor on ocean issues, and a committee appointed by LCDC to represent a wide range of interests on Oregon's coast.
"The oceans will play an important role in the next generation of clean energy development," said Lisa Schwartz, Director of the Oregon Department of Energy. "The Governor's 10-Year Energy Action Plan identified responsibly-sited wave energy as having the potential to help power Oregon coastal communities."
Oregon has invested more than $10 million in the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, created by the Oregon Innovation Council, to fund research and other projects to accelerate the development of wave power in Oregon. The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University deployed the first wave energy test system in the United States off Newport, and earlier this month announced it will site a larger, grid-connected testing facility in federal waters off Newport. This spring, Ocean Power Technologies plans to deploy the first federally-licensed commercial wave energy device off Reedsport.