Senate bill would force companies to remove their wave-energy buoys
SALEM — Oregon lawmakers don't want the state to get stuck with the bill if a wave-energy company installs equipment offshore and then goes belly up.
The Senate voted unanimously Monday to require that companies experimenting with wave energy in Oregon's territorial waters show they have enough money to recover their equipment when they're done with it. They'd be required to remove the equipment within two years of decommissioning it.
The bill now goes to the House.
Oregon's south coast has been identified as a prime spot to research wave energy, which seeks to harness the power of offshore waves to generate electricity.
Ocean Power Technologies, a Pennington, N.J. company seeking financing to build a wave-energy project off the coast of Reedsport, lost a buoy anchor and paid for the expensive search and recovery earlier this year. State Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, said he doesn't want taxpayers on the hook for cleanup costs if other wind-energy equipment goes awry or the developer no longer needs it.
"If it breaks loose or it eventually gets decommissioned, who's responsible?" Roblan said. "We don't think it would be the state."
Equipment left behind can be a hazard for navigation and fishing equipment, Roblan said, and cleanup costs could be in the millions of dollars.
Officials at Ocean Power Technologies did not respond to a request for comment.
The new restrictions apply only to wave energy projects within three miles of the Oregon Coast, which is considered Oregon's territorial sea and is subject to state regulation. Energy firms could be fined up to $1,000 a day if they don't remove equipment within two years, although the Department of State Lands would be allowed to extend the deadline.
The measure also directs the Oregon Department of Energy to study the costs and benefits of consolidating transmission lines for offshore projects, which could avoid the need for each farm of wave-capturing buoys to have its own transmission lines to shore.