Wave Power in the US: Permitting and Jurisdictional Issues


Title: Wave Power in the US: Permitting and Jurisdictional Issues
Publication Date:
December 21, 2004
Pages: 25
Technology Type:

Document Access

Attachment: Access File
(375 KB)


Ram, B.; Thresher, R.; Fall, N.; Bedard, R. (2004). Wave Power in the US: Permitting and Jurisdictional Issues. Report by Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Global Energy Partners LLC. pp 25.

E2I, Electric Research Power Institute (EPRI) and Global Energy Partners LLC (Global) are collaborating with state energy agencies and utilities from main, Massachusetts, San Francisco, California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii, and the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to define system designs for wave energy conversion device power plants at one site in each of those states. The overall project objective is to demonstrate the feasibility of wave power to provide efficient, reliable, environmentally friendly and cost-effective electrical energy and to create a push towards the development of a sustainable commercial market for this technology. This report, funded by the NREL,


"investigates the existing regulations for permitting and licenses for coastal/ offshore/ outer continental shelf (OCS) renewable electrical power generation for the three site-device options. Potential national level agencies involved are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In addition, various state and local agencies may be involved."


This report assesses the current regulations applicable to wave energy demonstrations and explains the legal barriers and challenges associated with getting a test project approved. Given that there are not specific statutes or national leadership supporting wave power, the regulatory framework is in flux and each demonstration project will have a different pathway for approval to operate. The research is based upon the experience of NREL staff with offshore wind energy projects in the US and Europe, interviews with legal experts and developers, and analysis of selected studies from Europe.


Experiences from the offshore wind industry are relevant to future planning and permitting requirements for wave energy, though the jurisdictional issues and the lead agencies may be different. The reason for using information from wing energy is that planning rules for wave energy projects generally have not been prepared or tested yet and offshore wind is farther ahead developmentally. There are two proposed offshore wind projects in the US testing jurisdictional issues, i.e. the Cape Wind project off of Hyannis in Massachusetts and the Long Island Power Authority project off of Jones Beach, Long Island. It is expected that ocean jurisdiction issues and environmental standards and regulations for offshore wind energy may, in many cases, provide some insight to demonstrating wave projects.


Section 2 discusses the policy framework and international ocean jurisdictions briefly, the legal framework for federal agency jurisdictions as well as selected federal and state laws that are applicable to a wave energy project. Section 3 describes current events with wave power demonstration projects, providing a brief overview of the technology and a summary of their regulatory experiences. Section 4 summarizes the lessons learned from the wave power projects as well as what we can learn from the regulatory pathway of installing offshore wind power projects in the US (Section 4.1). The last section (4.2) outlines some strategic considerations to streamline the regulatory requirements and clarify the jurisdictional issues.



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