Energy and Climate Change Law Alert: Oregon Legislature Makes Waves by Promoting Wave Energy
The Oregon legislature is carving out a new path to the ocean. Several pieces of legislation may facilitate the development of wave energy conversion ("WEC") projects, helping propel Oregon to the forefront of this emerging renewable energy sector.
Senate Bill 875
Recently passed by the Oregon legislature, Senate Bill 875 adds "ocean wave energy" to the list of renewable resources that are eligible for tax incentives. SB 875 also enables the Department of State Lands to adopt rules for the authorization of WEC facilities or devices. In addition, it requires owners or operators of the facilities or devices to maintain cost estimates of the amount of financial assurance needed for closure and post-closure maintenance of a WEC project, as well as for any corrective actions that need to be taken at the project site. Owners must also provide evidence that financial assurance has been obtained. The bill is expected to be signed by Governor Kulongoski in the near future.
House Bill 2925
Signed by Governor Kulongoski on May 31, 2007, House Bill 2925 exempts qualifying WEC projects from certain regulations applicable to hydroelectric projects. WEC projects off the Oregon coast generating five megawatts or less are not subject to the various preliminary permit requirements, state licensing requirements, and fees that apply to hydroelectric projects. This exemption exists only if a license is not required under the Federal Power Act.
Oregon Renewable Energy Act
The bold and recently enacted Oregon Renewable Energy Act calls on large utilities to provide at least 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. Different renewable portfolio standards apply to small utilities, which must also meet their energy targets by 2025. Qualifying renewable energy sources, which include wave, tidal, and ocean thermal energy, may be used to comply with the renewable portfolio standards. For a more detailed description of the Oregon Renewable Energy Act, please see our recent alert at http://www.stoel.com/showalert.aspx?Show=2423.
Oregon Innovation Plan
In the coming weeks, the Oregon legislature will vote on the Oregon Innovation Council's 2007 Innovation Plan. The Innovation Plan seeks to fund six initiatives that highlight Oregon's natural resource and technological advantages and have the potential to stimulate economic growth in the region. Of the various proposals submitted, wave energy development was selected as the sole proposal in the "emerging industry" category. If the Innovation Plan is approved, as much as $4.2 million could be allocated toward wave energy development.
House Joint Memorial 22
Oregon's House Joint Memorial 22 urges the U.S. Congress to require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to adopt rules that are specific to WEC devices and that provide applicants for WEC projects with expedited permitting and licensing processes. The Oregon legislature expressed concern that the current legal framework is tailored to hydroelectric dams and contains "deficiencies" that may impede the development process in the absence of congressional initiative.
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