FERC FY10 Budget Shows Limited Growth For Marine Renewables
We at OREC recently reviewed FERC’s FY10 Budget to see if we could glean any insights about the future of the marine renewables industry.
Going by FERC’s budget predictions, there won’t be much significant growth in the marine renewables industry, at least over the next two years. From the budget document:
Since FY 2007, FERC has experienced a moderate increase in interest in both conventional hydropower projects and hydrokinetic technology projects with over 10,000 MW of new hydropower proposals before the Commission. This trend is a result of high oil prices and market forces, growing interest in low emission, domestic and renewable energy sources, state renewable portfolio standard policies, and federal incentives consisting of tax credits, tax free bonds and direct subsidies.
In FY 2008 Commission staff developed licensing procedures for pilot projects tailored to meet the needs of entities interested in testing new hydrokinetic technology, while minimizing the risk of adverse environmental impacts. The goals of the pilot procedures are to: accommodate the rapidly expanding interest in hydrokinetic technologies; allow developers to test their new technologies; determine appropriate siting of these technologies; and confirm their environmental effects, all while maintaining Commission oversight and input. The process allows the issuance of short- term licenses (five years) of small scale hydrokinetic projects (5 MW or less) in as few as six months to allow for project installation, connection with the electric grid, operation, and environmental testing as soon as possible. Projects eligible to use this process are of limited size, are removable or able to shut down on short notice, and are not located in waters with sensitive designations. The resulting license would be short-term and include rigorous environmental monitoring and safeguards. The Commission expects three FTEs will be necessary in FY 2010 to work on these new technology issues, consistent with FY 2008.
So – three Full Time Employees to handle marine renewable for FY2010 and no growth over FY2008. Moreover, the Commission doesn’t appear to be anticipating any larger scale projects – which is probably reasonable given that so few small projects have gotten through licensing. Though I wish the news were better, I tend to believe that the Commission’s assessments of its needs are probably accurate. This is the first time I’ve wished for more government (since more FTEs for marine renewables would mean more projects) rather than less.