The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 22 approved an April 20 application from the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative of New England (MREC New England) for a preliminary permit to study for a permit term of three years the feasibility of the proposed Cape Cod Canal and Bourne Tidal Test Site.
The site is located on the Cape Cod Canal near the Town of Bourne in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. The proposed project would consist of: a 45-foot-high, 23-foot-wide support structure; a 25-kW turbine-generator unit; and a 500- to 7,500-foot-long, 13.2- kVtransmission cable. The estimated average annual generation of the project would be 54.7 gigawatt-hours. The project would occupy approximately 0.5 acres of federal land under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy commented that the proposed project boundary includes more than half of its waterfront property, which it uses for marine hydrokinetic research in conjunction with several local colleges and universities. The Maritime Academy stated that the project may hinder its vessel operations, training, and hydrokinetic research development. Maritime Academy requests that the Commission exclude this area from the project boundary. But, FERC noted that a preliminary permit does not authorize a permittee to undertake construction of the proposed project. The purpose of a preliminary permit is to study the feasibility of the project, including studying potential impacts. These concerns are premature at the preliminary permit stage, in that they address the potential effects of and measures for constructing and operating the proposed project. Should the permittee file a license application, these issues will be addressed in the licensing process.
The National Marine Fisheries Service advised that three species of whales, four species of sea turtles, and two species of fish listed under the Endangered Species Act may occur in the proposed project area, and recommended early coordination to develop impact studies to address potential effects to these resources. The commission said it has not sought to place all relevant study requirements in preliminary permits. Rather, the studies to be undertaken by a permittee are shaped by the commission’s filing requirements for development applications. Potential development applicants are required to consult with appropriate state and federal resource agencies and affected Indian tribes, conduct all reasonable studies requested by the agencies, and solicit comments on the applications before they are filed.
During the course of the three-year permit, the commission expects that the permittee will carry out prefiling consultation and study development leading to the possible development of a license application.