Newport, Reedsport are site finalists for expanded wave energy test site

Newport, along with Reedsport, was named a finalist as the host for a planned $8 million wave energy test facility that will be connected to the electrical grid and attract researchers from around the world.

Newport, along with Reedsport, is a finalist in the search for a site to host a planned $8 million wave energy test facility that will be connected to the electrical grid and attract researchers from around the world. 

Newport and Reedsport have been selected as finalists in the search for a site to host an $8 million wave energy testing facility, the Pacific Marine Energy Center.

Officials at the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University said these two spots provide the best infrastructure, have good ocean depths for testing, nearby electrical substations and community support for the endeavor.

The two sites beat out two others that had been in contention: Coos Bay and Camp Rilea near Warrenton.

The center held a series of forums in August about plans for the testing facility at all of the sites under consideration to answer questions and collect community feedback.

The facility is still working to finalize its funding — half of which is expected to come from the U.S. Department of Energy in a pending grant. The balance is likely to be cobbled together from other federal, state and private funding sources.

But the facility is still years in the future.

"Even if I had the funding in my pocket right now, it would still be a three-year process," said Belinda Batten, an OSU professor and director of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center.

Beyond construction of the site, which will include four test berths connected to the region's electric grid, the center will need to acquire federal permits and approvals to move forward, a years-long process.

When completed, officials expect the facility to attract researchers and companies from around the world, providing an economic boost to its host.

Committees will be formed in Newport and Reedsport to conduct a more detailed site analysis before the final decision is made.

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