SANTA ROSA, July 16, 2009 -- The Sonoma County Water Agency has gotten the green light from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate wave energy off the Sonoma Coast.

Terms of the permits allow SCWA to study the feasibility of developing 2 to 5 megawatts of wave power at each location and to assess the potential for expansion to over 40 megawatts at each site.

SCWA estimates that about $1.75 million in grant funding and its own funds will be required to complete the studies.

The locations selected include three 10-to-15-square mile areas along the coast north of the Russian River Estuary, each extending from one half mile to about 3 miles offshore.

SCWA worked with a coalition of interest groups to select the locations based on their avoidance of protected areas, known fishing and crabbing areas and other sensitive locations.