First U.S. Ocean Energy Power Purchase

In what is the first example of a U.S. public utility securing a power purchase agreement with an ocean energy company, Clallam County PUD finalized an agreement to purchase electricity generated by an offshore wave energy pilot plant, to be developed by Mercer Island, Washington-based AquaEnergy Group, Ltd.

Port Angeles, Washington – May 16, 2003 [] “We applaud Clallam County PUD for being the first public utility in the nation to execute a power purchase agreement for offshore wave energy,” said Alla Weinstein, CEO of AquaEnergy Group Ltd. “We are glad that the Pacific Northwest will be part of the exploration of offshore wave energy, especially in this time when the United States can greatly benefit from alternative sources of energy.” The pilot plant will consist of four wave energy converters called AquaBuoys to be placed in Makah Bay. The buoys have an expected capacity to produce 250 KW of electrical power each by mid 2004 – enough energy to light approximately 150 homes. Clallam County PUD will purchase the energy generated by the pilot plant and re-sell it to its customers at standard rates. “Clallam County PUD is committed to exploring and capitalizing on technologies that can generate alternative energy,” said Fred Mitchell, Clallam County PUD Telecommunications & Power Resources Manager. “AquaEnergy is a worldwide pioneer in harnessing offshore wave energy for power generation. They have been conducting ocean research in support of the environmental assessment for this new technology in Makah Bay. We have agreed to participate in the pilot program to assess feasibility of wave energy conversion.” The AquaEnergy system will use four buoys anchored about 3.2 miles off shore in Makah Bay. As each buoy rides up and down ocean waves, the motion of the ocean will operate an internal hose pump mechanism, which will pump water within the buoy to turn a small turbine. The turbine will drive a generator, with electricity brought ashore via a cable on the ocean floor. “Surveys have shown the Makah Bay region offers consistently powerful waves close to shore, Weinstein said. “This scenario offers a reliable source of energy and a short path of transmission to a shore collection point – both vital ingredients for siting economically feasible ocean wave power stations.” AquaEnergy launched a wave monitoring buoy and other measurement devices in Makah Bay in November, 2002. With the assistance of the Makah Nation and suppliers Thales GeoSolutions (San Diego), Evans-Hamilton (Seattle) and AXYS Environmental Sidney, BC), AquaEnergy obtained oceanographic and geophysical data necessary to determine the best route to bring generated power to shore. Initial help to gain necessary permits for the project was provided by a consortium that includes Northwest Energy Innovation Center, Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Northwest, Washington State University and Battelle Memorial Institute. Other consortium members include the Makah Indian Nation, Clallam County Economic Development Council, and Clallam County PUD.
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