PG&E Set to Tap Into Wave Power

PG&E Set to Tap Into Wave Power

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. took a step toward securing more renewable energy Tuesday with a purchase agreement for wave power.

The utility will buy commercial wave energy from Finavera Renewables Inc., which is building the Humboldt County Offshore Wave Energy Power Plant some 2.5 miles off the Humboldt County coast. The project is scheduled to begin delivering wave energy in 2012 following a multi-year permitting process.

"Harnessing the ocean's energy on a utility scale is a critical achievement in renewable energy technology and this project represents our first step in that direction," said Fong Wan, PG&E's vice president of energy procurement. "Wave energy, along with solar thermal energy and biogas generated from cow manure, are examples of the innovative and promising sources of non-polluting, renewable energy PG&E is pursuing as part of our commitment to combat climate change."

The contract between the two companies calls for Finavera to deliver 3,854 megawatt hours of wave power to PG&E annually, which will be delivered to customers in the utility's northern and central California service area.

The project will include wave energy converters that will deliver the wave energy using undersea transmission lines.

The move is part of the utility's efforts to boost its renewable energy sources to comprise 20 percent of its portfolio by 2012, as mandated by state law.

PG&E isn't the only utility on the prowl for renewables. Southern California Edison also announced Tuesday it has signed two 20-year deals for geothermal and wind energy, which it says will help it become the largest renewable purchaser in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Progress Energy Florida signed a contract to buy electricity from a waste-wood biomass plant scheduled to being operation in 2011. It is the second waste-wood biomass plant to supply the utility with electricity.