TERRITORIAL SEA PLAN PERSPECTIVE By Mike Morrow, lifelong Oregonian, Chief Technology Officer, M3 Wave, LLC
It’s a common refrain: “The only way we can prove that wave energy will be a viable source of clean energy, or that we fully understand the impacts of full scale devices, or that those devices will survive Oregon winters, is to get pilot devices in the water.”
But in order to get prototypes in the water, the industry needs a stable regulatory route to viable ocean locations. Private capital has been reticent to pour money (which would translate into jobs) into a nascent industry where the fundamental operating rules are in flux and the regulatory landscape is uncertain.
Oregon has a long, proud tradition of independent thought and creative solutions including the Bottle Bill, vote-by-mail, and our public coastlines. In a similar spirit, the Territorial Sea Plan was originally conceived to comprehensively balance the needs of coastal stakeholders with the economic and environmental opportunities of wave energy.
Unfortunately, this process has morphed into one where exclusionary practices are the baseline. We are faced with a lost opportunity for Oregon to show the world how to harness the power of the ocean in a manner that is fair to everyone while growing a robust industry in the process- an industry that combines the best of Oregon’s strengths in high-tech and industrial fabrication.
The TSP processes need to factor in flexibility and adaptability since the best wave energy technology may not have even been invented yet. I know of many wave energy researchers who are so focused on development work they lack the time to attend the myriad of TSP meetings and public forums to represent their viewpoint.
Unfortunately, it’s in these very meetings that Oregon is effectively deciding if it wants to lead the way in balanced implementation of clean marine energy or sit back and watch the private investment, fabrication jobs, deployment/maintenance charters, and startup companies move overseas.