The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Tuesday approved a full build-out of a 1.5-MW gird-connected wave power station that is planned by Ocean Power Technologies’ (OPT’s) Oregon subsidiary Reedsport OPT Wave Park. The license is the first issued for a wave power station in the nation.

FERC granted a 35-year license for grid-connected wave energy production following an environment assessment, notifications to the public, assessment of federal and state regulations, and consideration of comments, recommendations, and terms and conditions.

Construction of the initial OPT PowerBuoy is nearing completion, and it is expected to be ready for deployment about 2.5 miles off the Reedsport coast in Oregon later this year. OPT has so far received funding for this first system from the Department of Energy. The project is supported PNGC Power, an Oregon-based electric power cooperative.

After the initial PowerBuoy is deployed, OPT plans to construct the balance of the wave power station, consisting of up to nine additional PowerBuoys and grid connection infrastructure, “subject to receipt of additional funding and all necessary regulatory approvals,” the company said.

“The 35-year term of the license demonstrates the commercial potential of wave power, and this will support initiatives to secure financing for the project,” said Charles F. Dunleavy, OPT’s CEO.

In August 2010, OPT announced that it had signed a settlement agreement with 11 federal and Oregon state agencies and three non-governmental stakeholders for its utility-scale wave power project at Reedsport. “FERC gave strong consideration to the agreements set forth in the [settlement agreement] in determining key provisions of the license. The [agreement] supports the responsible, phased development by OPT of a 1.5 megawatt wave energy station in a manner that protects ocean resources and stakeholder interests. It covers a broad array of resource areas including aquatic resources, water quality, recreation, public safety, crabbing and fishing, terrestrial resources, and cultural resources,” the company said.

Sources: POWERnews, OPT, FERC

—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)