This report draws on the body of environmental assessment work done on marine renewable energy installations (MREI) in other regions, particularly in Europe, and summarized in a companion report – Ecology and Effects of Marine Renewable Energy Installations. A combination of several techniques is required in order to appropriately monitor marine megavertebrate species around tidal turbine sites; these techniques are reviewed, and some of the particular challenges of monitoring at tidal turbine sites are identified.
A methodology plan specific to the proposed tidal energy project for Muskeget Channel by the Town of Edgartown is outlined in this report. This methodology plan is based on accepted survey and mitigation techniques, previous research and practical experience at other MREI sites and established, good scientific practice.
Muskeget Channel is located between the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Water depths in the channel range between 40 and 160 feet, with Wasque Shoals to the west and Mutton Shoal to the east. Muskeget Channel allows for the exchange of water between Nantucket Sound to the north and the Atlantic Ocean and continental shelf to the south.
The Town of Edgartown is proposing to develop an initial 5MW tidal energy pilot project in Muskeget Channel. Edgartown holds a Preliminary Permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), giving it the exclusive right to explore the development of the resource for energy. Edgartown is required to submit a Draft Pilot License Application that will allow the town to deploy, operate and monitor this pilot-scale turbine installation. This application must include information on initial consultation with cooperating federal resource agencies; draft study plans, including one on protected species, and an outline of work that will be completed during deployment of the pilot project.
The Town of Edgartown engaged Harris Miller Miller & Hanson (HMMH) as its Principal Investigator (PI) and program manager. HMMH was successful in obtaining U.S. Department of Energy funding for the study: Environmental Effects of Sediment Transport Alteration and Impacts on Protected Species: Edgartown Tidal Energy Project.