Weather keeps wave energy 'at bay'

Ocean Power Technology tested this buoy off the coast of Scotland. The company will test a similar buoy off Reedsport. The Reedsport buoy is already built, and awaiting deployment in the spring.

Contributed photo.

WINCHESTER BAY — Ocean Power Technologies will not deploy its test wave energy buoy off Reedsport until spring.

The company planned to have the country’s first long-term test wave power generation buoy in the water by October, but weather halted the installation’s progress, said Greg Lennon, OPT’s director of business marketing.

“We managed to get one anchor in place,” Lennon said. OPT’s wave technology will be secured with three anchors.

“We were met with a number of challenges, mainly the weather. The installation crew was being kept, literally, at bay.”

The remaining two anchors will weather the winter in Reedsport. The power generation buoy is in Portland.

“There is a lot of work that went into this buoy,” Lennon said. “It’s the first commercial-sized buoy in the United States. We want to make sure we get it right.”

OPT plans to build a wave energy park off Reedsport. It has worked five years and spent about $10 million. A little less than half that money was a grant from the Department of Energy.

OPT, a New Jersey based company, already has tested a similar buoy off Scotland. It projects Oregon’s buoy will produce about 1.5 megawatts of power, enough to power 1,000 homes. By contrast, the Bonneville Power Administration’s highest producing dam in the Pacific Northwest — the Grand Coulee on the Columbia River — produces 6,765 megawatts.

In August, the company received a permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to test its buoy about 2.5 miles west of Winchester Bay. The company plans to monitor that buoy for up to two years. If the technology proves viable, OPT has up to five years to establish a 10-buoy park that will be connected to shore via an underwater ocean cable, according to the permit.

Lennon said this fall’s postponement will not put the project behind schedule. According to the permit, OPT must commence buoy installation by 2013. It has until 2017 to build the 10-buoy park.

Reporter Jessie Higgins can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or