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January 28th, 2013By Amelia Tempelton
The state of Oregon has adopted new zoning rules that set aside about 2 percent of the Oregon coast for wave and offshore wind energy.
The new rules identify where wave and off-shore wind energy projects should go. The goal: to select locations for these projects where they would be least likely to conflict with surfers, commercial fisherman, and wildlife.
But not everyone’s happy with the four sites the state approved for wave energy. Two of them are near Reedsport on Oregon’s south Coast.
“You couldn’t find a worse place to put a wave energy facility as far as an impact to fisheries on the coast,” said Nick Furman with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. Furman said the Reedsport sites are in prime crab fishing territory. The other two sites are off Oregon’s north coast near Astoria and Neskowin.
State officials say fishermen will only be kept out of the development zones if wave energy buoys are actually built and anchored there. That could be years, or decades away.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber issued a statement Friday praising the choices made by Oregon’s Land Conservation and Development Commission.
“This balanced proposal shows Oregon can thoughtfully support this emerging and promising industry while protecting our coastal communities’ quality of life, our commercial and recreational fisheries, and a coastline that all Oregonians treasure,” Kitzhaber said.
According to Kitzhaber’s office, Oregon has spent more than $10 million on the Oregon Wave Energy Trust. It is charged with paying for research and other projects to accelerate the development of wave power in Oregon.
The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University deployed the first wave energy test system in the United States off Newport. Earlier this month the center announced it will site a larger, grid-connected testing facility in federal waters off Newport.
This spring, Ocean Power Technologies plans to deploy the first federally-licensed commercial wave energy device off Reedsport.