November 13, 2014

Marine Hydropower Bill Passes Committee

Wyden-Authored Bill Encourages Development of Non-Traditional Hydropower

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced that his bill to encourage development of electricity from the water power in oceans, rivers and lakes took a step forward when it passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today.

The Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2014 (S. 1419) facilitates marine hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies that generate emissions-free renewable energy from ocean tides and waves, and the free-flowing water in rivers and lakes. The Department of Energy estimates that there is enough potential energy in these unconventional forms of hydropower to one day power millions of homes.

“As anyone who’s ever felt the pounding ocean surf off the coast of Oregon knows, there is tremendous energy in water,” Wyden said. “I’m thrilled that the committee recognizes the need to get marine and hydrokinetic power projects into the water so they can move a step closer to contributing to U.S. energy production.”

The bill reauthorizes the Department of Energy’s national marine renewable energy research, development and demonstration centers around the country, one of which is run by Oregon State University. It also allows developers seeking to invest in and deploy small MHK pilot projects to cut through regulatory red tape by designating the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as the lead agency responsible for coordinating the permitting of such projects, and setting a goal of issuing pilot licenses within 12 months.

The bill passed by a voice vote and now goes to the full Senate for consideration. Wyden introduced the bill last year with Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Wyden is the former chairman and remains the senior Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.