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Bonamici Bill to Boost Marine Energy Passes House in Clean Energy Package

September 24, 2020
Press Release


WASHINGTON, DC [09/24/20] – Today Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici’s bipartisan legislation to increase federal investments in marine energy, the Water Power Research and Development Act, passed the House as part of H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act.


The Water Power Research and Development Act strengthens water power programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) and provides funding for research, development, demonstration, and commercialization of marine energy. Importantly, the bill funds existing and new National Marine Energy Centers, including the Pacific Marine Energy Center – operated by Oregon State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


Bonamici spoke in support of the legislation on the House floor. The video can be found here.


“As we transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy, we have the opportunity to capture the power of the ocean, waves, tides, and currents to help mitigate the climate crisis,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, the only member from the Pacific Northwest on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. “Marine energy has tremendous potential as one of the last untapped renewable energy sources, and federal investment can help unlock it. Oregon is at the forefront of marine energy thanks to Oregon State University and innovative companies like Vigor, and this legislation should further solidify our leadership in the promising sector of marine energy. This energy package is an important step in advancing clean energy technologies that will combat the climate crisis and create good-paying jobs.”


“The Water Power Research and Development Act plays a keystone role in ensuring the long-term resilience of the future electrical grid, both for large scale utilities and small remote communities,” said Bryson Robertson, Co-Director of the Pacific Marine Energy Center at Oregon State University. “Oregon State University’s path-breaking PacWave test facility is at the leading edge of what will become a multi-billion marine energy sector, and this legislation will bolster our work and generate new opportunities for US companies and workforce within the emerging blue economy. The long-term vision and leadership displayed by Representative Bonamici will ensure that the US will have the necessary knowledge, workforce, and technologies to transition successful to carbon-free electricity domestically and secure a significant portion of the international market place.”

The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the surface of our planet and can be used as a plentiful, renewable energy resource. According to DOE estimates, there is enough kinetic energy in waves and tides along U.S. coastlines to meet a significant portion of our nation’s power needs.


Bonamici has long advocated for funding for marine energy and she co-led the Marine Energy Research and Development Act last year. She also led 44 of her colleagues in calling for $200 million for Fiscal Year 2021 for the DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office, which supports investments in hydropower, marine, and hydrokinetic energy technologies, including research and development at the Pacific Marine Energy Center.


The Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act incorporates many of the recommendations from the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis’ Climate Action Plan. The bill makes major investments in clean energy, environmental justice, and workforce development that Bonamici has called for:

  • Authorizes more than $4 billion for research, development, demonstration, and commercial application (RDD&CA) to advance cutting-edge renewable energy technologies, including solar, wind, geothermal, and water power.
  • Brings clean, reliable energy to marginalized communities, including $25 million for grants to deploy energy storage and microgrids in rural communities and $1 billion for solar installations in low-income communities.
  • Boosts funding for popular and proven energy efficiency programs, providing nearly $1.7 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program and $17.5 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.
  • Authorizes more than $36 billion for transportation electrification, including through grants and rebates to deploy electric vehicles and related charging infrastructure.
  • Authorizes $650 million to deploy low- and zero-emissions school buses, $375 million for the Clean Cities Coalition Program, and $2.5 billion for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.
  • Prioritizes the needs of those on the frontlines of climate change, including low-income communities, communities of color, and other marginalized groups.
  • Establishes a clean energy workforce development program to educate and train the next generation of clean energy researchers, scientists, and professionals, including through grants to eligible businesses.