Offshore Renewable Energy

15 people in attendance

Jennifer McCann presented on Rhode Island’s offshore energy planning, which is a state initiative; the governor mandated future goal of 15% of state’s electricity from offshore wind. Energy is only one part of a larger ecosystem-based management framework called the Ocean SAMP (Special Area Management Plan).

The state provided funding to implement research on wind resources, acoustics, engineering, submarine geology, etc. for siting and monitoring. One researcher developed a quantitative measure for siting that accounts for costs, transmission distance, etc. to help spatially focus research. The planning process resulted in a designated “energy zone” south of Block Island.

For guidance about data collection needs (e.g., migratory birds), Rhode Island looked at the draft EIS for Cape Wind in MA as well as the federal permitting process (talking to the agencies up front was a good idea) and local data needs such as fishing to create a streamlined, two-year permitting process for state waters.

Sea Grant’s role:

Development and implement the Ocean SAMP

Implement an MOU between MA and RI

Develop monitoring protocols for offshore renewable energy

Engage in regional ocean partnership

Madeleine Hall-Arber of MIT Sea Grant reported that MA has not been as engaged, with the CZM program in charge. Cape Wind is the first developer to get all permits necessary, but it was a long and difficult process that did not meaningfully engage stakeholders and as a result has been contentious. MA Ocean Plan focuses on state waters (so doesn’t include Cape Wind). Nor have MA fishermen had a role in the process.

Flaxen Conway, OR SG, reported that Oregon’s deep waters are being looked at for wave-related energy. State goal is 25% renewable by 2025. SG’s role is to support research into technology advancement, and connect researchers with ocean users (including helping fishermen get organized), and then to connect private developers with users and researchers. They helped engage fishing and other coastal communities, but in a catch-up manner in reaction to development proposals rather than proactive like RI. One challenge was distinguishing “outreach” from public relations, and SG had to teach developers what outreach means and what SG role would be. Sea Grant is conducting outreach and education for the University-based DOE-designated National Marine Renewable Energy Center. OSG discussed their decision to enter nondisclosure agreements with energy companies, which was difficult but their goal is to keep things from getting contentious and guide the developers about potential issues and stakeholder interests. SG role is to teach them how to work with communities and alert them to potential issues. Sea Grant is involved because the programs are responding to constituents’ needs that build on longstanding relationships.

Maine Sea Grant has been involved with facilitating community meetings about siting offshore wind in state waters. The University has received DOE funding to develop floating turbine technology and a test site has been designated off Monhegan Island. Maine has funded some research related to tidal energy and expects increased involvement.

Michigan SG is funding wind research grants to help communities create planning tools. Trying to be cautious about seeming “pro-wind”.

Korea is about to start operating largest tidal power plant in December (a barrage that originally was built to create freshwater supply and turbines added later). KSG is not sure how to plug in.

What can we as a network be doing nationally? This issue is not going to go away.

–communicate research activities and share findings to avoid duplication

–share tools—e.g., RI having a 3-day training in May 2011

–website

–lessons learned from working with energy industry

SG directors need to share with other agency leaders the role that SG can play; even if they don’t want us involved, our constituents trust us and want us engaged.

Another suggestion was to have national fellows working with focus teams pull together info on specific issues, like energy.

Both of these ideas had support.

(by Catherine Schmitt, Maine Sea Grant)

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