Massachusetts tidal power project plans moving ahead

By Barry Cassell, Chief News Analyst, GenerationHub

The Town of Edgartown, Mass., told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 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 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 approximately 20 MW and an expected output of approximately 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).

The 5-MW (nameplate) 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.

In the August 2013-February 2014 period, Edgartown and its partners have a number of on-going activities including:

  • Implementing acoustic studies pending funding from the Department of Energy (DOE);
  • Cooperating with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center regarding Year II data collection (October 2012 to September 2013) of protected species in Muskeget Channel through aerial surveys; and
  • Filing a draft environmental impact report (DEIR) at the MEPA Office.

“The Town of Edgartown continues to advance the project with the co-operation of the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth’s Marine Renewable Energy Center (MREC),” the July 24 update said. “We are seeking ways to work with MREC and permitting agencies that can facilitate regional marine renewable technology research objectives and a pilot project to demonstrate commercial scale application. We anticipate filing our next 6 month Progress Review on February 2, 2014 covering the period August 2, 2013 to February 1, 2014.”

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