Tidal energy project near Martha's Vineyard nears completion

The town of Edgartown, Mass., told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on July 24 that it is making progress on a 20 MW tidal energy project located on the east side of Martha’s Vineyard.

The 5 MW tidal power pilot project includes 13 cross-axial helical tidal energy units positioned 25 feet below the water surface over about a 200-acre area of the deepest segment of Muskeget Channel at water depths between 100 and 160 feet. It also includes a substation located near each of the landfall alternatives.

The July 24 filing was a six-month update submitted under a successive preliminary permit issued by FERC in August 2011 for the Edgartown-Nantucket Tidal Energy Power Plant Project.

In July 2007, Edgartown applied to FERC for a preliminary permit for this project. As originally conceived, the project would consist of as many as 50 tidal in-stream energy conversion (TISEC) units with a nameplate capacity of about 20 MW and an expected output of about 50 GWH per year in the desired currents.

The project would unfold in several stages, culminating initially in a pilot plant of 1 MW to 5 MW in size. Following a period of successful pilot plant operation and of completion of the licensing process, Edgartown would add the additional TISECs.

In March 2008, FERC issued a preliminary permit for a designated area between the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket including Muskeget Channel. In October 2009, Edgartown requested approval from FERC to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) and Draft Pilot License Application (DPLA).

In 2009, Edgartown’s request was approved and the date for submission of the NOI and DPLA was confirmed to be March 31, 2010. The town then requested extensions for filing the DPLA to ensure that sufficient information was available to support its application.

On Jan. 31, 2011, Edgartown filed its NOI and DPLA with FERC, and concurrently filed a state application under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA).

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