Bill encourages innovation, boosts next-generation hydro power

Oregon Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley were among the senators who have introduced legislation to increase domestic production of low-carbon, renewable energy from the natural power in ocean waves, tides and currents.

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

“Americans want cleaner and more affordable electricity fueling their homes, and the dirty energy relics of yesteryear don’t cut it,” Wyden said. “Harnessing the power of ocean waves, tides and currents will bring us closer to the low-carbon, renewable future desperately needed.”

“We need a rapid transition away from the fossil fuels that are driving climate chaos and putting communities across Oregon and America at grave risk,” Merkley said. “American innovation that taps into our already-abundant clean resources can make that seemingly daunting transition possible. This legislation supports the development of the cutting-edge technology we need to generate clean and affordable wave energy, all while creating reliable, good-paying jobs for American workers.”

“Maine’s coastline helps power our economy and our communities – why shouldn’t it also help power our electric grid?” Maine Independent Sen. Angus King said. “Maine has abundant marine resources that can be used to create clean, renewable energy and reduce our reliance on dirty fuels that harm our environment. This legislation takes an important step forward to develop the energies of the futures, which will reduce both emissions and costs to consumers.”

The Marine Energy Research and Development 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.

The legislation also directs the Department of Energy to research ways to build a stable marine energy supply chain in the United States, as well as ways to harmonize marine energy development with ocean navigation, fisheries and critical infrastructure such as undersea cables.

“Marine energy is the least utilized form of renewable energy and holds incredible promise to sustainably power economic growth,” Dr. Bryson Robertson, co-Director of the Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC) at Oregon State University, said.

“The Marine Energy Research and Development Act of 2019 would facilitate the advancement of needed research, technology development, and testing to accelerate the market viability of innovative systems that can sustainably harness and convert the incredible power of our oceans, rivers, and tides for electricity. PMEC is pleased that Senator Wyden is leading this important legislation,” Robertson said.