For electricity generation, most transmission-level interconnections are governed by federal rules through FERC. However, siting of transmission and distribution lines is controlled by state and local governments. This raises a number of jurisdictional problems for new generators. Even when a specific MHK site is determined, appropriate resource assessment will be governed by complex power regulations related specifically to how any needed transmission is developed and how the generator is connected to the grid.
Social and Economic Filters
Oceans and rivers are crucial resources for local communities, states and regions, and the country as a whole. Navigable waters are a resource for a number of sectors, and coordinating their use is an immense logistical challenge that will definitely impact MHK energy development. In the case of tidal power, some of the locations with the highest tidal energy density are also estuaries having ports with heavy commercial shipping traffic. It is likely that there will be limitations to the number and size of turbines and the depth at which they can be deployed so as not to interfere with established shipping lanes. In regions of the United States with an active U.S. Navy presence, there may be constraints on MHK siting owing to military operational, training, or security concerns. Tourism and recreational traffic pose another spatial conflict—impeding a popular bay with an array of turbines may affect not only recreational fishing but also tourism. This is also true of commercial fisheries, which could be unfavorably impacted if an MHK deployment restricts access to desirable fishing grounds. Finally, existing structures may have to be considered. A site may become more or less advantageous because of existing infrastructure—for example, while in-stream turbines may require limited deployment near a bridge due to their potential impact on river scour, it may be advantageous to deploy them in the discharge canals of power plants. Such site-specific logistical constraints due to multiple uses of rivers and the ocean are not adequately captured in a general technical resource assessment.
The potential for multiple uses may reduce conflicts and create opportunities for meeting shared objectives. For example, offshore aquaculture and MHK structures could be sited together, allowing them to jointly meet
environmental, economic, and cultural concerns, while providing a timely and predictable means for developers of such projects to seek necessary state and federal approvals.” It further delineates the eight state and local agencies with which the California parties will coordinate in order to meet this objective.