On Monday, November 5, MMS held an invitation only conference call to announce two important initiatives. Both Sean O’Neill, OREC’s President and Carolyn Elefant, Legislative and Regulatory Counsel, participated in the call. First, MMS announced that it has issued the Final Programmatic EIS for alternative energy development on the OCS. Back in May, OREC filed draft comments on the DEIS (available here). Generally, we found that the DEIS would serve as a useful resource for offshore renewable developers, as well as for regulators involved in the permit process. In the coming weeks, OREC will review the final EIS and report back to members on its contents.
Second, MMS announced that it is initiating an interim program which would allow for placement of meterologic towers and marine renewable data collection testing facilities on the OCS. As indicated in this Federal Register Notice , MMS is accepting nominations for sites that developers would want to assess, as well as comments on these questions:
(1) Would you be interested in acquiring an alternative energy resource assessment lease or technology testing lease as proposed under the interim policy? If so, please identify the resource(s) you would want to assess (e.g., wind, wave, current) and the technology you would want to test and provide a general description of the type and number of installations or technologies you would use, prospective locations, and a project schedule for the activities you would propose to pursue. The MMS requests respondents to identify prospective locations by depicting them on Official Protraction Diagrams (Leasing Maps for areas off Texas and Louisiana) available from each MMS regional office and online at http://www.mms.gov/ld/Maps.htm. For areas such as those off Hawaii and Alaska that have nonexistent or incomplete Official Protraction Diagrams, please identify prospective locations by latitude and longitude (NAD 83). If you submit such nomination and application information, please provide the name, telephone number, and e-mail address of an individual for the MMS to contact. (2) Would you be willing to collaborate and enter into joint ventures with other prospective lessees who express interest in acquiring the same location for an alternative energy resource assessment or technology testing lease? (3) What would be an appropriate lease term (duration) for the authorization you are interested in acquiring? (4) Is the rental rate of $3.00 per acre appropriate? (5) How much acreage should be authorized for the types of activities proposed and how should leases for such activities be appropriately spaced (i.e., inclusion of buffers)? (6) How should the MMS define technology testing activities and what specific types of activities should be authorized by technology testing leases? Should technology testing leases accommodate projects that would require a transmission cable to connect to onshore interconnection points ?
The comment period will be open for sixty days. Naturally, OREC intends to file comments on this significant development. We urge our members to let us know your position – and if you aren’t yet a member, we urge you to join up to participate in this important effort.