Wave energy project off Cape Flattery to get public comment period

NEAH BAY – A draft environmental assessment of a proposed ocean wave energy project off the Pacific coast is expected to be released for public comment in May, says Mike Clark, spokesman with Finavera Renewables of Dublin, Ireland, recently.

Clark said the opportunity for government agencies or marine industry groups to comment on the draft environmental assessment, which found no significant environmental effects expected from the project, closed Friday.

The process assessed the project’s potential impact on Makah Bay, which is part of the Makah Reservation in the extreme northwest corner of Clallam County.

The wave energy project would be placed within the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

Company officials now will work with FERC to respond to government and industry comments and figure out ways to mitigate concerns, Clark said.

Once the public comment period wraps up in June, the project’s application will be sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for review, he said.

“We hope that review will be done sometime in the fall, maybe earlier,” Clark said.

The marine sanctuary superintendent, Carol Bernthal, was far less optimistic about when the application’s review would be completed.

“I wouldn’t venture to put a date on it,” she said.

“There’s so many uncertainties and certain engineering aspects of the design need to be evaluated.”

Bernthal said sanctuary officials worked with AquaEnergy on the scope of issues and studies necessary for the environmental assessment.

Once FERC makes its licensing decision, then the project needs state and federal permits as well, including one from the sanctuary, Bernthal said.

“It’s really interesting,” she said.

“It’s the first in the United States and the first in a marine sanctuary.

“It’s never been built before so there’s no precedent.”

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