BOEM Offers First Renewable Energy Research Lease in Federal Offshore Waters Along the U.S. West Coast


On January 19, 2021, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) offered the first marine renewable energy research lease in Federal waters off the U.S. West Coast.

The Federal marine hydrokinetic energy (MHK) research lease was offered to Oregon State University (OSU) for the PacWave South project, a proposed open ocean wave energy test center, to be located approximately six nautical miles off Newport, Oregon. The research lease area is approximately 1,696 acres or 2.65 square miles.

Marine hydrokinetic technology harnesses energy from ocean waves, tides and currents, and converts it into electricity to power our homes, buildings and cities. Wave energy converters that will be tested at PacWave South are floating or underwater devices that are moored to the seafloor and capture energy from the moving waves.

Lease issuance by BOEM is a prerequisite for a license from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is the Federal Agency that would approve project construction and operations. OSU filed the PacWave South final license application with FERC on May 30, 2019. The PacWave research lease is the first MHK lease to be issued off the West Coast under the joint BOEM-FERC authority over marine hydrokinetic projects on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). BOEM and FERC collaborate closely throughout the leasing and licensing processes.

In October 2013, OSU submitted an unsolicited request for a research lease for a grid-connected wave energy test site to be located offshore Newport, Oregon. The project will consist of four test berths to support the testing of up to 20 wave energy converter (WEC) devices, with an installed capacity not to exceed 20 megawatts, to demonstrate the viability of wave energy. A WEC device converts the kinetic and potential energy associated with the movement of ocean waves into electrical or mechanical energy.

In June 2014, BOEM determined there was no competitive interest in the area requested by OSU and proceeded with the leasing process on a non-competitive basis. BOEM participated as a cooperating agency with FERC’s environmental review of the project, including in the preparation of the Environmental Assessment.

On April 23, 2020, FERC issued an Environmental Assessment for the PacWave South project, which includes BOEM’s environmental analysis associated with lease issuance.

Jurisdiction for grid-connected MHK projects on the OCS is shared by BOEM and FERC. BOEM has authority to issue leases, easements, and rights-of way, and FERC has authority to issue licenses for the construction and operations of MHK projects on the OCS.

To learn more about BOEM’s activities associated with the PacWave South research lease, click here.

Information related to OSU’s PacWave South licensing with FERC can be found at FERC’s website (use the “eLibrary” link and P-14616 for the “Docket Number”)