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GOP politician, top wave energy researcher on GreenWave team claiming waters off Mendocino

Two top Southern California real estate developers and a leading Republican political figure lead GreenWave Energy Solutions LLC, company President Wayne Burkamp told the newspaper. One of five GreenWave members is former state Assemblyman Tony Strickland, who lost his bid last year as the GOP nominee for state controller. Strickland is the Republican candidate expected to run to replace termed-out Tom McClintock in a heavily Republican state senate district. GreenWave, whose federal wave energy preliminary permit application covers waters from Little River to Fort Bragg, where it abuts the PG&E claim, was the topic of puzzled speculation at Saturday’s day-long wave energy event in Fort Bragg. While PG&E sent a team to the event and every federal and state agency now involved was on hand, GreenWave has yet to be seen locally. Many of those attending the event have been frustrated in efforts to find out who or what GreenWave is. Rachel Binah, a leader of anti-offshore oil and gas drilling forces for two decades, asked during her presentation that Mendocino County dig up some information about Green Wave. John Innes, of the North Coast Fishing Association, said the mysterious filing by GreenWave resembled many of the limited liability companies (LLCs) that filed for wind energy permits, which he handled in a previous job. He said those LLCs often acted as fronts for others. The devices ended up abandoned when the shell corporations departed. Innes speculated that a good reason why Green Wave has not come forward locally could be that it, too, is a shell corporation. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, has also questioned whether GreenWave’s lack of identifying information in their October filing could mean the company is banking their claim with the intent to sell to someone else later. FERC found the filing “deficient” and has asked the firm to submit more information about the company’s origins and makeup, as part of the federal agencies’ efforts to avoid “banking” or speculative claims. Burkamp said GreenWave Energy Solutions LLC is not a shell corporation or a subsidiary of any other company. “No, we are a completely independent business people. We have diverse talents and interests,” Burkamp said. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, has also questioned whether GreenWave’s lack of identifying information in their October filing could mean the company is banking their claim with the intent to sell to someone else later. FERC found the filing “deficient” and has asked the firm to submit more information about the company’s origins and makeup, as part of the federal agencies’ efforts to avoid “banking” or speculative claims. Burkamp said GreenWave Energy Solutions LLC is not a shell corporation or a subsidiary of any other company. “No, we are a completely independent business people. We have diverse talents and interests,” Burkamp said.   GreenWave members Burkamp said GreenWave started about a year ago as a limited liability company with five members who are interested in the blossoming field of alternative energy. He said the members are Burkamp, Strickland, engineer Bill Bustamante, developer Dean Kunicki and developer Gary Gorian. Internet searches showed that Kunicki and Gorian are well-known developers in Southern California. Kunicki has been involved in non-profit organizations such as the Red Cross and was elected last year to the Ventura County Board of Education. Gorian, whose name is on California state LLC filings for GreenWave, runs Colton Lee Communities of Thousand Oaks, whose projects range from apartments and pre-fab housing to planned communities. Gorian is also on the board of directors of Casa Pacific, a temporary home for children in crisis. None of the five men had visited the Mendocino site by Jan. 18, the filing having been made Oct. 23, 2007. A FERC preliminary permit, which GreenWave has filed for waters off the town of Mendocino, acts like a mining claim or development agreement, whereby real estate is held for a certain time period for a certain use. Burkamp said the skill developers use to navigate the political process would be key to developing wave energy, where the regulatory process is still being defined. “We basically had the idea that we could develop these sites, and this was the right team to do it,” Burkamp said. “We could possibly streamline the development process with the help of our political arm (Strickland).”   Tony Strickland Strickland wouldn’t have to stray far from his history to battle through wave energy regulations, as he has been one of the most strident foes of business regulations in California. Strickland has been running California Club for Growth, an anti-tax and anti-regulation supply-side economics fund-raising organization that works to push Republican candidates to the right on fiscal issues. One recent statement attacked former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for suggesting restrictions on CEO incomes. As former chief of staff for the influential McClintock, Strickland is part of a small circle of powerful Republicans in the Simi Valley/Thousand Oaks area. When Strickland termed out in the 37th Assembly District, his wife, Audra Strickland, replaced him as Republican assemblywoman in that seat.   Consultant Previsic Mirko To choose the locations off San Luis Obispo (where GreenWave filed a second preliminary permit application on the same day) and the town of Mendocino, GreenWave hired Previsic Mirko, whom Burkamp characterized as a top expert in wave energy. “We learned that these are the only two spots left with excellent potential to produce wave energy,” said Burkamp. Mirko indeed has long been involved in important wave energy studies on both coasts of the United States, including the 2003 California state study that has been used as a text by all those involved in the issue. Mirko has helped alternative energy startup companies and been in on the invention of wave energy devices and is considered one of the top names in the field. Mirko is a consultant and not a member of the LLC, Burkamp said. GreenWave has not issued any press releases and has had no involvement in any local public forums. Burkamp said he had hoped to attend the wave energy forum on Saturday in Fort Bragg but said it is too early in the process for specifics. “We are at a preliminary stage of the process. There will be a time for us to hold public forums and do the things you suggest,” Burkamp said.   Where’s the money? FERC is also requesting that GreenWave reveal where it would get the money to undertake the wave energy project and has asked the group to discuss what type of technology it would use. Burkamp said GreenWave has sources for the financing and is leaning toward the Pelamis sea-snake design at this point. “We have a number of sources for the funding … Again we believe the process is too early for us to finalize who our sources are, or to select the device that generates the wave energy,” said Burkamp. Burkamp is an attorney with the San Francisco law firm Armstrong Teasdale. He specializes in real estate and also does corporate securities work. A frustration in finding information about GreenWave has to do with ongoing problems with the FERC Website, which extends to several other filings. County officials, local activists and even a leading official from another federal agency complained about spotty searching of filings on the FERC Website. Until the end of summer, new filings were reliably posted on the FERC Website, but none has been posted in the “new” area since October. Some searches work on the FERC Website and FERC has not answered requests from this reporter that all new wave energy filings be provided. GreenWave’s filing, along with that of the county of Sonoma and a new filing by California Wave Energy partners off Cape Mendocino, rumored to be both wind and wave energy, have not appeared on the Website. A map prepared by the Department of Interior contained all the filings except the filing by California Wave Energy Partners, another LLC. A phone call quickly revealed California Wave Energy Partners is a subsidiary of Ocean Power Technologies of New Jersey, which along with competitor Finavera are the leading wave energy firms. Ocean Power Technologies has made headlines in recent days with the dramatic decline in its stock price. By FRANK HARTZELL Of the Fort Bragg Advocate-News
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