The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued its first pilot project license for a tidal energy project located in New York City’s East River.
The project, owned by Verdant Power and known as the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project, is 1,050-kW and uses the East River’s natural tidal currents to generate electricity. Turbine generator units are mounted on the riverbed and capture energy from the tidal flow. The pilot license issued to Verdant Power is for 10 years.
“Issuing a pilot license for an innovative technology is a major step in the effort to help our country meet our renewable energy goals,” FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said. “FERC’s pilot process is doing what it should: allow for exploration of new renewable technologies while protecting the environment.”
FERC developed the pilot license process in 2008 to allow developers to test new hydrokinetic technologies, to determine appropriate sites for these technologies and to confirm the technologies’ environmental effects without compromising FERC’s oversight.
Projects eligible for a pilot license must be (1) small; (2) short term; (3) located in an environmentally non-sensitive area; (4) removable and able to be shut down on short notice; (5) removed, with the site restored, before the end of the license term unless the licensee obtains a new license; and (6) initiated by a draft application with appropriate environmental analysis.
FERC has seen rising interest in the possibility of developing hydrokinetic projects. FERC has issued 100 preliminary permits to study the feasibility of developing a specific project. Another nine entities are in the pre-filing stages of developing license applications, and three entities have filed license applications.