The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Mineral Management Service (MMS) have finally decided to work together in dealing with offshore renewables. They issued a press release announcing that they have agreed to work together in permitting offshore renewables. Up till now there was a dispute as to which agency had jurisdiciton over the permitting of wave and tidal projects in Federal waters. I have been meaning to write about the dispute and how it was going to work against progress but had not gotten around to it. Instead Carolyn Elefant has a discussion of the issue on her blog, Offshore Renewable Energy Blog.
The press release seems to indicate that FERC will have jurisdiction over wave and tidal projects and MMS will have jurisdiction over wind projects in federal waters. We will have to wait to see how the Memorandum of Understanding sets out how this is going to work. For example, while FERC will be issuing permits for wave and tidal projects does the applicant have to also get a lease from MMS? What happens if they have the permits but cannot get the lease? What happens when a permit application goes in for a wave project in the same area as where developers are seeking leases from MMS for wind projects? That is exactly what is happening with Grays Harbour proposed site is overlayed with Blue Water Wind and one other (i think Deepwater Wind) sites.
If the Country is interested in developing renewable energy than these kinds of conflicts really need to be worked out ahead of time not as they develop. Back in 2004 the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy recommended that these issues be dealth with ahead of time and that the jursidicational disputes be clarified with a National Ocean Council. We will see if the FERC and MMS compromise provides a workable framwork.