FERC Claims Jurisdiction on Hydrokinetic Projects on the Outer Continental Shelf

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Through a press release issued last week, FERC has claimed jurisdiction over hydro projects on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), a region within three miles off the ocean shore.FERC asserted that the Federal Power Act (FPA) gives the Commission authority to regulate hydroelectric projects on the OCS while the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) intends the Commission to be the lead authority over such projects. The Mineral Management Services, (MMS) under the Department of Interior (DOI) had also claimed authority over hydroelectric projects on the OCS stating that FERC's jurisdiction does not extend to the OCS."I am confident that today's decision puts to rest any questions about FERC's jurisdiction over hydroelectric projects on the OCS," said FERC Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher. "This will allow applicants, local, state and federal agencies, and other interested groups to work together more effectively and expeditiously to develop appropriate projects that utilize our renewable ocean resources."The battle between MMS and FERC started on issuance of preliminary permits for two wave energy projects- the Humboldt Project (P-12779) off the coast of the Samoa Peninsula in Humboldt County, and the Mendocino Project (P-12781) off the coast of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County, California.