On June 4, 2009, FERC and Washington State signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) to coordinate their review of projects that use emerging hydrokinetic technologies in Washington’s waters. Hydrokinetic facilities generate electricity from waves or directly from the flow of water in ocean currents, tides, or rivers. The MOU promotes cooperation between FERC and Washington on regulatory and environmental issues, as well as recognizing the importance of economic and cultural factors in the decision making process.

Under the MOU, officials at FERC and in Washington agree to:

  • Notify each other when one party becomes aware of a potential applicant for a preliminary permit, pilot project license, or license;
  • Agree upon a schedule for processing license applications as soon as possible. The schedule will include milestones, and FERC and Washington will encourage other agencies and stakeholders to comply with the schedules;
  • Coordinate the environmental reviews of any proposed projects in Washington state waters. FERC and Washington will also consult with stakeholders, including project developers, on the design of studies and environmental matters; and
  • If Washington prepares a comprehensive plan on the siting of hydrokinetic projects, FERC will take this plan into consideration when issuing a license for any hydrokinetic project.

FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said that “this MOU will help reduce some of the regulatory barriers to providing consumers with access to this new form of renewable energy.” FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller stated that “this decision will help promote another form of clean and renewable energy in the state. The next crucial step is to place some of these projects in the water so that any effects on the marine ecosystem can be thoroughly analyzed. It’s time for action on renewable energy technologies.”
In March 2008, the Commission and Oregon State signed a similar MOU on Wave Energy Projects (see March 28, 2008 edition of the WER). A copy of the MOU is available at: http://www.ferc.gov/legal/maj-ord-reg/mou/mou-wa.pdf.