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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 11:52 am | Fair 69º


Captain’s Log: Wave Energy Project in the Pipeline

PG&E is pursuing a WaveConnect™ facility off the coast of Santa Barbara County

The ocean promises abundant energy as well as nutrition and medicine. We are striving to be responsible stewards — and users — of oceanic resources. So we ponder, converse and often argue about how we should harvest or harness much-needed resources.

Capt. David Bacon
Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

Power generation is one option, and now there is a wave energy plan on the table. Below is some information from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., notices about public meetings and resources to learn more. I encourage you to learn more and get involved as a stakeholder.

About the Central Coast WaveConnect™ Project

As part of the program, PG&E is pursuing an ocean-wave energy project to be located off the coast of Santa Barbara County.

Central Coast WaveConnect Public Meetings

» 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Santa Barbara Central Library’s Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu St.

» 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday in the board hearing room at the Betteravia Government Center, 511 E. Lakeside Parkway in Santa Maria

PG&E applied for a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 11, to study the feasibility of a wave energy project within state waters near Point Arguello. If granted, the permit would allow up to three years to study the offshore environment to determine whether the location is appropriate for a wave energy facility.

PG&E has an agreement with Vandenberg Air Force Base to explore the feasibility of developing renewable energy for the area and is proposing connecting the wave energy project to the electric grid using existing facilities at the base. This working partnership would help reduce potential effects to nearby areas by eliminating the need for onshore infrastructure development on Santa Barbara County land and beaches.

Wave energy projects have been developed and demonstrated around the world, including several in the United States. The Central Coast project would be PG&E’s second wave energy facility in California (the other is the Humboldt WaveConnect Pilot Project).

Proposed Preliminary Study Site

PG&E has applied to FERC for permission to conduct baseline environmental studies within an area about 16 miles long and up to three nautical miles wide off the Santa Barbara County coast.

A FERC preliminary permit would allow studies leading to a license and wouldn’t authorize construction or disturbance of any land or property, or exclude other uses. If FERC grants the permit and the studies indicate that it would be feasible to construct a project at that location, PG&E then would apply to FERC for a license to construct the wave energy facility.

The proposed study area was selected because:

» It has a high-quality wave energy resource.

» It avoids known sensitive areas such as marine protected areas and the Gaviota coast.

» It has relatively less-known fishing and recreation usage than other sites in the region.

» It’s convenient to the existing transmission infrastructure on VAFB.

If the preliminary permit is granted, PG&E will seek the help of local stakeholders and regulatory agencies to determine which areas within the preliminary permit boundary are most appropriate and feasible for a wave energy facility. The final project site would be smaller than the proposed preliminary study site.

Environmental Review Process

The Central Coast wave program would be a multiyear process involving many partners and benchmarks.

Public Involvement

PG&E is committed to working closely with a broad range of stakeholders in the project area to ensure that interests and perspectives are heard and addressed to the extent possible. It will conduct a public workshop early this year to provide information to interested residents about the FERC preliminary permit application and site selection. As the effort proceeds during the next three years, PG&E will actively work with a collaborative group of interested stakeholders and conduct periodic public meetings.

Click here for more information about upcoming public involvement opportunities.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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