U.S. Department of Energy project partner Oregon State University (OSU) has submitted a Draft License Application (DLA) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct and operate the Pacific Marine Energy Center South Energy Test Site (PMEC-SETS). PMEC-SETS will provide a grid-connected platform for advanced testing of multiple wave energy converters with up to 20 megawatts of cumulative capacity simultaneously. With four prepermitted test berths, each capable of connecting five devices to the grid, this infrastructure will allow prototypes to be tested in realistic ocean conditions to improve and advance successful designs.

A significant milestone within the FERC licensing process, the DLA represents the culmination of over five years of working with federal and state agencies, tribal governments, and other important stakeholders to identify appropriate project locations, develop project plans, and reach agreement on measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate for potential environmental impacts. OSU is seeking public comment on the DLA, which it will evaluate as it prepares a Final License Application for submission in late 2018.

The DLA includes several key elements:

  • Preliminary Draft Environmental Assessment (PDEA): The PDEA describes the proposed PMEC-SETS project and analyzes potential environmental, cultural, and social impacts. The PDEA contains information and analyses that will be useful to FERC in conducting its review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The PDEA concludes that PMEC-SETS will not have significant impacts to the environment.
  • Draft Biological Assessment (Draft BA): The Draft BA analyzes potential impacts from construction and operation of PMEC-SETS on threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as their critical habitats. The Draft BA can be used by FERC to comply with its obligations under ESA. The BA concludes that the PMEC-SETS project is not likely to adversely affect any ESA-listed species or critical habitats.
  • Draft Monitoring Plans: The Draft Monitoring Plans represent OSU’s commitment to monitoring specific resources to confirm that the project’s impacts are consistent with what is expected.
  • Draft Protection, Mitigation, and Enhancement Measures (Draft PM&Es): The Draft PM&Es are proposed conditions that OSU would implement during construction and operation of the project to avoid, minimize, and mitigate potential impacts of the PMEC-SETS project.
  • Adaptive Management Framework (AMF): The AMF provides a decision-making structure to inform OSU’s implementation of certain PM&E measures. As proposed, an Adaptive Management Committee will be established to evaluate monitoring plan results, make necessary changes to the monitoring plans, and evaluate when specific measures should be implemented to avoid, minimize, or mitigate for impacts identified through project monitoring. 

Submission of the DLA is an important milestone for PMEC-SETS to provide a grid-connected platform for advanced testing of utility-scale wave energy converters in a high-energy, open-coast environment. The 25-year FERC operating license will help expedite the testing process at reduced costs for technology developers. The ability to more quickly and cost-effectively test devices and demonstrate iterative design improvements will allow technology developers to more rapidly improve performance, drive down costs, and attract investment and financing for future projects.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid. For more information on water power research, development, and testing see the EERE Water Power Technology Office's website.