Oregon wave energy project may be delayed

REEDSPORT, Ore. — A company planning to channel the power of the ocean off the Oregon coast into the electrical grid inland says it faces a new regulatory hurdle and needs more money for what has been billed as the nation’s first commercial wave energy operation.

Ocean Power Technologies told investors this month that it’s doing reports and studies for the government and is unlikely to meet a 2013 goal of installing a test buoy, one not connected to the electrical grid, the Roseburg News-Review reported on Wednesday.

“This process could require significant delay of the deployment of the first PowerBuoy, as well as present additional costs for the company,” CEO Chuck Dunleavy said in a conference call with investors.

The Pennington, N.J., company plans to install buoys that use wave motion to generate electricity, enough to power about 1,000 homes. Cables would take the power inland to the grid.

In August, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the company a 35-year license to install up to 10 buoys about 2 1/2 miles off Reedsport on the south Oregon coast.

The company said it learned in February that the agency will require it to comply with all conditions of its license for 10 grid-connected buoys before putting a test buoy in the water.

“Since the first buoy was not going to be grid-connected, the company did not believe it was under the FERC jurisdiction,” Chief Financial Officer Brian Posner said in an email to The News-Review.

The company in the past has relied heavily on funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Navy.

“We are speaking to several sources for additional funding at this time, but we would prefer not to discuss them publicly until firm commitments are established,” Posner said. He would not say how much the company would need.

Besides generating electricity for onshore utility customers, the company said its buoys could have other uses, such as sonar and radar surveillance, tsunami warnings, oceanographic data collection, offshore platforms and offshore aquaculture.

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