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The Muskeget Channel Tidal Energy Project: A Unique Case Study in the Licensing and Permitting of a Tidal Energy Project in Massachusetts

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Marine hydrokinetic (MHK) energy projects, those generating power from the tides and waves, are subject to a comprehensive licensing and permitting process. In order to comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations, project proponents must study the proposed development site to fully understand existing conditions and disclose potential project impacts. The Muskeget Channel Tidal Energy Project proposed by the town of Edgartown in partnership with the University of Massachusetts presents an interesting case study of how an MHK project obtains regulatory approvals. While other studies have reviewed the regulatory process of energy projects, the case of Muskeget is unique because (1) the applicant is a municipality, (2) it is proposing to obtain a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under its pilot license program, (3) the project is being evaluated by Massachusetts’ agencies under the Massachusetts Ocean Plan, (4) it includes both a commercial energy generation project and a research test facility for the long-term testing of MHK technologies, and (5) the project is being led by a consortium of public partners supported largely by the scientific institutions. The objective of this paper is to highlight the multidisciplinary character of this type of development and to illustrate the advanced level of complexity associated with the Muskeget Channel Project because of its ground-breaking technology and oceanic location, which challenges the existing knowledge base in science, engineering, and law.
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Keywords: MEPA; NEPA; energy; hydrokinetic; tidal

Document Type: Technical Note

Publication date: 01 July 2013

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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