May 03, 2017

Senators Introduce Bill to Boost Next-Generation Hydro Power

Wyden-authored Legislation would Encourage Production of Marine Energy

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Angus King, I-Maine, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, today introduced legislation to increase domestic production of low-carbon, renewable energy from the natural power in ocean waves, tides and currents.

The Marine Energy Act provides federal resources to encourage private investments in renewable energy projects that use the power in oceans to produce electricity.

“Capturing the energy found in ocean waves, tides and currents right off the Oregon coast means producing more clean energy and more clean energy jobs,” Wyden said. “Marine energy has the potential to provide a nearly inexhaustible source of homegrown renewable electricity to power American homes and businesses while addressing the very real challenge of climate change.”

“Our natural resources can also be one our greatest energy assets,” King said. “By reauthorizing important research programs, we can take a positive step toward unlocking a clean energy future that can not only lower bills, but also help stem the impact of climate change.”

“We need a rapid transition from a fossil fuel economy to a clean and renewable energy economy—our planet depends on it,” Merkley said. “Oregon State University’s cutting-edge work developing wave energy is exactly the type of innovation our country needs to power a clean grid and create clean energy jobs. With technology to harness the energy that is already around us every day – the sun, the wind, and now, the waves of the ocean – we can generate clean and affordable energy for every single American.”

“Marine energy has the potential to tackle climate change, create jobs, and promote energy independence—all at the same time,” Schatz said. “Passing this bill is a chance for us to explore that full potential through research and development, keeping the United States at the cutting edge of energy technology in a way that is good for our economy.”

“Advancing next-generation marine energy through research, development, and demonstration is key to ensuring Hawaii achieves its bold vision of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045,” Hirono said. “This important legislation will help accelerate the ongoing work of our state’s energy research teams to create jobs and find innovative solutions to cleaner energy.”

The Marine Energy Act reauthorizes marine renewable energy programs at the Department of Energy. Those programs include the national marine renewable energy research, development and demonstration centers found around the country – including one operated by Oregon State University.

"OSU greatly appreciates the efforts of Sen. Wyden and his colleagues to support DOE's marine energy R&D activities as we help lead the global effort to commercialize wave energy systems,” said Dr. Belinda Batten, director of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center.

According to estimates from the Department of Energy, there is enough potential energy in this next-generation form of hydropower to one day power two hundred million homes, which is nearly double the current number of U.S. residential units.

The bill passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last year and it was included in a broader, bipartisan energy bill, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which passed the Senate last April. 

Read the bill text and a one-page summary of the Marine Energy Act.