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|Articles - May 2011|
|Wednesday, April 20, 2011|
Page 5 of 5Industry players range from cautiously optimistic to concerned about the state’s planning process as it appears increasingly open-ended. Though all say they support the planning, and that a completed plan will have benefits — chiefly a level of certainty in permitting that’s likely to play well with investors — there is grumbling about the lack of a deadline, a basic industry need.
Justin Klure, a partner with Pacific Energy Ventures in Portland, works with several ocean energy clients at different levels of commercialization.
Developers such as Mike Morrow, a principal at M3 Wave Energy in Salem, are content with a long-term vision. M3 Wave Energy is testing a submerged power device that won’t hit the water soon. Any delay in the state’s ocean zoning plan gives his company more time to network with other ocean users, whose support he views as key to their success.
“I couldn’t take a map and put a bunch of pennies on the places that we would like to develop because there are just so many things that we don’t know yet,” says Morrow.
DLCD’s Klarin is keenly aware that some wave-energy companies are still developing technology. And that some will never have a successful water launch, like Vancouver, B.C.-based Finavera Renewables, which sank a buoy off the coast of Lincoln City before changing its name to Finavera Wind Energy in February and concentrating efforts elsewhere. Klarin notes that ocean energy companies also face hurdles in raising capital, building infrastructure and competing with other power sources, many of them cheaper.
“That’s why I don’t feel an urgency to get something done tomorrow,” says Klarin. “Our plan will be sitting around waiting for all that stuff to happen for quite a while.”
Klarin is also frustrated with developers’ approach to Oregon. “They want fast-track easy [permits]," a lower bar on environmetal reviews and regulations, and subsidies. In summary, he says, their message to the state has been, “Give us a free hand and all the money in the world and maybe we’ll do something that will benefit you.”
Yet recent activity from Oregon’s most successful wave-energy developer and also the least encumbered, OPT, shows that waiting poses real risks to jobs and economic health by stifling opportunity in an industry that clearly has room to grow.
Well capitalized from its first public offering in 2007, OPT recently contracted with Oregon Iron Works for a multimillion-dollar project to build its first 200-ton buoy. Though the contract amount was not disclosed, Bob Lurie, vice president of North America for Business Development, says it created 35 jobs at Oregon Iron Works. Once built, the buoy will need two other Oregon companies — American Bridge and Sauce Brothers — to moor, deploy and maintain it.
The project ties OPT to Oregon for a long while. But with buoys already in the water in Hawaii and other projects in the works in Scotland, Japan and Australia, OPT illustrates how wave energy companies can and do operate in the most inviting markets.
“We can say that we’ve been impressed with the earnest effort that the state is making to try to accommodate wave energy and also work with all the stakeholders to make sure it is being done in a responsible way,” says Lurie.
Though OPT will not be affected by delays in planning, he says, the goal of state planning was to create a process for developing ocean energy, something continued delays fail to offer.
Oregon House co-speaker Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay/Florence) says capturing the wave-energy industry remains a high priority for Oregon, as evident in the years of planning and tremendous energy directed at forming OWET. He says it’s important to have a clear understanding of current ocean users as energy opportunities are planned for, and to protect all ocean stakeholders moving forward.
“As we embark on the final stages of the sea-mapping plan,” he says, “I am confident we can address the issues raised and we’ll continue to work to keep this new industry as a vital part of Oregon’s future.”
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
By Kim Moore | OB Editor
The 2015 survey launched this week. It is open to for-profit private and public companies that have at least 15 full- or part-time employees in Oregon.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
Dr. Chong Fang isn’t God. But the assistant professor of chemistry at Oregon State University is getting closer to figuring out how he put everything together.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY KIM MOORE
The ubiquitous fast-food restaurant may be on the decline.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Agriculture businesses ramp up to meet international demand as workforce and succession challenges loom.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS
In 2012 The Dalles, a city of some 14,400 located 75 miles east of Portland and often seen as the poor cousin to adjacent Hood River, completed a massive project to revitalize its dock.
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