San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Entrepreneur Wants to Harness the Power of Waves Near San Onofre to Generate Electricity

The waters off the coast of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) are being considered for a massive renewable, green-energy science experiment. The group that was granted permission by the federal energy regulators hopes to one day build an Ocean Wave Electricity Generating (OWEG) farm, harnessing the energy in the waves that pass through the area to produce electricity for Southern California Edison, which operates the nuclear plant.

And just like any science experiment that involves beaches, waves and/or environmental habitats, a whole lot of people are riled up about it. And not in a good way.

"The challenge with [having OWEG farms in] Southern California is that it's such a heavily used coastline recreationally," Chad Nelsen told the Los Angeles Times. Nelsen is the environmental director for the Surfrider Foundation. "We think wave energy is a good idea, but it's got to be sited in the right place and done in the right way."

JD Products and its general manager, Chong Hun Kim, along with the federal regulators that gave them the green light, seem to believe one mile off the coast of the nuclear plant is a fine spot for the hydrokinetic wave farm. In Kim's application for federal approval of the study, he indicated that 11,000 generators would be spread out over a 2-square-mile area on the sea floor.

At this point, approval just allows Kim and his company to begin a three-year study to determine whether or not instaling thousands of generators is a worthwhile investment.

Among those concerned are the usual cast of environmental groups, including the Surfrider Foundation and the Sierra Club, local surfers, and area fisherman, who believe the 8-square-mile area for the OWEG farm will have an adverse affect on the ocean environment.

The environmental groups don't oppose the idea of wave farms--instead, quite the opposite. But the concern is that Kim's proposed wave farm hasn't taken into consideration the effects it may have on sea life and wave patterns. Kim has indicated that is not the case.


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