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Oregon Plans for Offshore Marine Renewable Energy

Feb. 12, 2013
Ocean Sentinel wave energy testing system

Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center's Ocean Sentinel wave energy testing system off the coast of Newport, Ore. Credit: Pat Kight, Oregon Sea Grant

Oregon has officially amended its Territorial Sea Plan to allow for siting of marine renewable energy development projects in state waters.

The amendment identifies four "Renewable Energy Suitability Study Areas" along the Oregon coast where initial development of wave energy will be encouraged and pose the least conflict with existing ocean uses and natural resources. The four areas are located off the coasts of Lakeside, Reedsport, Nestucca, and Camp Rilea, and total about 22 square miles or two percent of Oregon’s territorial sea.

Wave energy development proposals in these areas will still be required to meet standards for protecting ecological resources, commercial fishing interests, recreational uses, and coastal views, but they will have fewer obstacles to overcome because planners have determined these areas to be the most suitable with the least potential for impact. Companies can also seek approval for projects in other areas off Oregon’s coast, but will have to meet more stringent standards.

Oregon has invested more than $10 million in the Oregon Innovation Council’s Oregon Wave Energy Trust, to fund research and other projects to accelerate the development of wave power in Oregon. The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University deployed the first wave energy test system in the United States off Newport, and announced it will site a larger, grid-connected testing facility in federal waters off Newport.


Over the past three years, NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management has supported the plan's development through the National Coastal Zone Management Program by providing financial assistance, policy guidance, and helping to connect the state with NOAA's and other federal agency's science and expertise needed to complete spatial analysis. The state intends to submit the plan for incorporation into their federally-approved Coastal Management Program, which would allow them to use some of the policies within the plan for Federal Consistency review, under the Coastal Zone Management Act.