Marine Renewable Energy Legislation Introduced in Senate

Wyden/Murkowski Measure Will Bolster Industry, Create Jobs

August 1, 2013—Today, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, respectively, together introduced the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2013 (S. 1419). This legislation is an important step in the continued development of our nation's marine and hydrokinetic resources (MHK) and the emergence of a new renewable energy industry.

MHK technologies generate electricity from predictable and forecastable waves, tidal flows, ocean currents, thermal gradients and in-stream sources. The United States has significant marine energy resources and a cost-effective MHK industry could provide a substantial amount of clean, renewable energy for the nation, while creating thousands of high paying jobs. The Department Of Energy is currently developing an aggressive strategy to support its vision of producing at least fifteen percent of our nation's electricity from all forms of water power by 2030.

The Wyden/Murkowski legislation will advance the research and development of MHK technologies, while also providing regulatory relief for small-scale demonstration projects. The bill will support a viable path for MHK technology commercialization that capitalizes on an abundant, carbon-free resource. The research, development and regulatory provisions provided in this bill will help position the United States as a leader in this emerging industry. The legislation will also accelerate job growth and stimulate additional private investment in this sector.

"The Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition (OREC) strongly supports the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act and is pleased that Senators Wyden and Murkowski were able to provide the bipartisan leadership for this effort," said Sean O'Neill, OREC's President. "The funding authorized in this measure, along with its regulatory efficiencies, demonstrates America's intention to capture the emission free, predictable, and sustainable power in our oceans and free moving water currents," said O'Neill. "The Wyden/Murkowski bill sends a clear message across the MHK supply chain that the federal government's commitment to advance the technology and move it into the market is strong, serious and sustained."

Commercialization of technologies to harness marine renewable energy resources will require federal funding to augment research and development efforts already underway in the private sector. Federal funding will leverage additional capital from the private sector to develop promising technologies that are on the verge of commercial viability.

"Marine hydrokinetic power has tremendous potential to generate a substantial amount of clean, renewable energy in the United States and across the globe," Wyden said. "The bill Senator Murkowski and I introduced today will help commercialize marine energy technologies by streamlining permitting and continuing research and development, bringing marine energy technology one step closer to supplying predictable base-load renewable power in the future," Senator Wyden said.

The Wyden/Murkowski legislation authorizes an additional $200 million over four years for DOE's Water Power Program, which is charged with supporting efforts in the private sector to improve the performance, lower the costs, and accelerate the deployment of innovative technologies capable of generating clean and affordable energy funding from MHK resources. "Other countries are moving forward with funding and incentives to support marine renewable energy development," said Mr. O'Neill. "This legislation will enhance our competitive position in the international market."

As is the case with emerging energy generation technologies, renewable or otherwise, the regulatory process for pre-commercial pilot projects can be an obstacle to the water power industry. Federal and state agencies are challenged in determining the appropriate permitting and regulatory policies. The Wyden/Murkowski measure provides relief in the current siting process, with some limited regulatory efficiencies that aim to foster the development of MHK technology. The more efficient and timely regulatory process will facilitate the siting of pre-commercial pilot projects that demonstrate technology viability.

Senator Murkowski noted that, "Both Oregon and my home state of Alaska have significant marine and hydrokinetic energy resources that hold great potential. I have been eager to get projects in the water that can generate clean, carbon-free electricity. Our bill is intended to support new technologies through robust research, development, and demonstration projects as they advance toward full commercialization."

Mr. O'Neill stated that, "In their leadership and support for this legislation, Senators Wyden and Murkowski have shown us that the Congress can work to solve our common challenges. Their bipartisan efforts are commendable and their collaboration has been essential in building this industry in the United States," stated O'Neill. "We look forward to working with all Members of Congress to encourage final passage of the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2013 with maximum support for the DOE Water Power Program."

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