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Company Envisions Morro Bay Wave Energy Park

January 25,2014

15 Mile Site Could Generate 200-500MW

Suddenly wave power projects off the Central Coast are all the rage with preliminary plans announced last month by Florida-based Archon Energy to build a wave park 2 to 3 miles off the Morro Bay coast. Called the Morro Bay Wave Park the company has filed a permit request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

That news follows reports that CalPoly,with a federal grant in hand,will be studying the potential for wave energy of the California coast. At the same time with the expected retirement of the Morro Bay power plant, owner Dynegy said in their financial report last year that they were working with Greenwich Conn-based Starwood Energy to see if the natural gas fired plant could be re-purposed for some green power use. Starwood has experience with wave power projects.

MB Wave Park 2014-01-20 at 1.40.19 PMNot Visible?

Archon filed their preliminary application to develop the Morro Bay Wave Park with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission November 11,2013 saying it sought a priority application to carry on studies and evaluate the scale of a renewable energy project that could be a mile wide and 15 miles long, likely too far off the coast to be visible from the shore, they said.

The project would install power generating buoys connected to convertors about 500ft apart anchored to the ocean floor and a power cable connected to the coast probably to the Morro Bay Power plant substation.

The application says they want to utilize “the power transmission corridor left behind after the future decommissioning of the 1002 MW Morro Bay Power Plant.”
The project could potentially generate 200 to 500MW of power upon build out but for now“the most likely scenario is we do a pilot plant rated at 5 to 10MW“says Paul Grist,President of Archon Energy.

”We are potentially 30 to 60 days away from approval on our application from FERC” that will start a 3 year feasibility study and environmental approval process. Grist says when the FERC preliminary permit is OK’d they will meet with local stakeholders – one on one.”

The Morro Bay project is not the only wave power park Archon plans to pursue. At Purisma Point – off Vandenberg AFB the company has filed for a similar preliminary permit with FERC on a 12 mies long wave park. That application was filed November 15,2013. Both projects were announced on the company website in December.

Also in December Congress member Lois Capps announced that Cal Poly’s Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy and its partners received a grant of $750,000 from the Department of Energy to evaluate the feasibility of a National Wave Energy Test Center off the coast of California.

“Cal Poly’s Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy will evaluate two potential sites off California’s coast, both of which offer a wide range of wave energy testing climates. Developing even a small fraction of the available wave energy could allow for millions of American homes to be powered by this clean form of renewable energy.
Cal Poly was one of only two universities in the nation to receive funding for the project.” The sites are off Santa Barbara County and off Humboldt County.

Grist says Archon has checked in with Cal Poly and that what the are working on does not conflict with what Cal Poly is investigating. They are studding different parts of the Santa Barbara coast as well.

The US Department of Energy has said they plan to allocate $25 to 50 million for wave energy testing at one West Coast facility.

Screen Shot 2014-01-25 at 7.11.38 AM“The biggest problem the industry has is that the technology is not quite there” admits Grist, who says it is close enough to be planning a wave park.

Grist notes that the Australian government has funded a $66 million wave park off their coast – now under construction.

Archon has experience on small energy projects around the country but not of this scale. Grist says as things progress, if they do, they will bring in a major partner, likely a utility, to enable the project to move forward.

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