FERC is seeking comment on the several alternatives for reviewing preliminary permit applications including maintaining the standard preliminary permit review process currently in use or provide stricter scrutiny of permit applications and limit the boundaries of the permits to prevent site-banking and promote competition. Until FERC determines how it will review permit applications for these technologies, it will use the stricter scrutiny approach.

In a related action, FERC applied its interim approach for issuing preliminary permits for these new technologies for the first time to Reedsport OPT Wave Park to study a proposed 50MW project to be located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Oregon.

In addition to the typical six-month progress reports to FERC by the permit holder, FERC is also requiring a schedule of activities to be carried out under the permit and target dates for completion. Consultations with the appropriate federal, state and local agencies as well as other interested parties must also take place. The permit provides a potential applicant three years in which to develop a formal application for a licence, which is required to construct and operate any hydro power project.

Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher said: ‘These emerging new hydroelectric technologies have significant potential. However, these technologies present some challenges relating to reliability, environmental and safety implications, and commercial viability. Our action today announcing an interim policy while seeking comment on alternative approaches shows that we are dedicated to demonstrating regulatory flexibility with respect to development of these promising new hydroelectric technologies.’