Cautions, concerns and intriguing hopes that attach to wind energy apply even more so to wave power, which is just getting under way off the central Oregon Coast.

The idea of harnessing a smidgen of the vast might of the ocean to generate electricity is a utopian dream that just may become reality in the next few years. The success of experiments by New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies is key to this goal.

Intense interest in preserving ocean health has been reflected in the regulatory process for OPT's pilot wave-energy project, which resumes with a test buoy 2.5 miles off the coast of Gardiner later this year. It is good to see the head of the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association say that all parties have been models of cooperation in figuring out how to make a giant new industrial process come to life in a marine environment.

All this makes for a fascinating technological challenge, to help address our energy needs and create a brand new American industrial sector. If it works, these would be profoundly important, good-paying jobs.

The fact that oil platforms manage to survive in the North Sea between Scotland and Norway is a sign that technology can overcome awesome physical obstacles.

But the fact that the Weather Service seems incapable of designing even a weather buoy that can last through our northeast Pacific storms indicates that OPT faces a big challenge. In fact, the company's first test buoy promptly sank off Newport two and a half years ago.

Risks are part and parcel of proving a big new concept. We should all root for this one, while keeping an eye out for any unacceptable impacts in Oregon waters.


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