Bonamici, Young, Deutch Introduce Bill to Strengthen Investments in Marine Energy
WASHINGTON, DC [03/05/20] – Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Congressman Don Young (R-AK), and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to increase federal investments in marine energy.
The Water Power Research and Development Act strengthens water power programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) and reauthorizes funding for research, development, demonstration, and commercialization of marine energy. Importantly, the bill authorizes funding for 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 – and Florida Atlantic University's Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center.
Our 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.
“The power of waves, tides, and currents from our ocean can be captured and converted into clean, renewable energy to power our homes, buildings, and communities,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Marine energy is one of the last untapped renewable energy sources. It can play an important part in addressing the climate crisis, but it requires stronger federal investments. Our bipartisan Water Power Research and Development Act will help accelerate innovative research and development, like the work that is being done at Oregon State University and the Pacific Marine Energy Center, to help us transition to a 100 percent clean energy economy.”
“I have long supported harnessing Alaska’s vast hydropower capabilities, and was proud to support projects such as the Terror Lake Hydroelectric Plant and the Swan Lake Hydroelectric Project,” said Congressman Don Young. “Hydropower is an important energy resource, and we should be doing all that we can to empower communities in Alaska and across the country to pursue opportunities in hydropower. This is a very good bill, and I want to thank my good friend Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici for her leadership on this crucial effort.”
“In Florida, we’re surrounded by a powerful, renewable energy source that’s waiting to be harnessed," said Congressman Ted Deutch. "Marine and hydrokinetic energy should be part of our national strategy to diversify our energy sources and include more renewables. This legislation would encourage and support the research, development, and implementation of the science and technology to ultimately connect marine and hydrokinetic energy to our electric grid. I'm proud of the innovative team at Florida Atlantic University’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center working to improve our understanding of the potential of recovering power generated by waves, currents, and tides."
“I am delighted that Rep. Bonamici has introduced the Water Power Research and Development Act,” said Dr. Bryson Robertson, Co-Director, Pacific Marine Energy Center at Oregon State University. “This bill provides the necessary pathway, and support, for the U.S. marine energy industry to capture a significant share of a multi-billion dollar emerging Blue Economy market, assist in our transition to carbon-free electricity production, and develop the next generation of renewable energy leaders.”
In addition to supporting marine energy, the Water Power Research and Development Act takes steps to enhance and decarbonize maritime energy infrastructure, including port infrastructure, to improve resilience for disaster preparedness or extreme weather events in the climate crisis. The bill directs the DOE to work with other federal agencies to make sure that hydropower technologies, including pumped storage, do not jeopardize the integrity of marine environments and the well-being of fisheries. It also supports education and outreach activities to strengthen workforce development and training to further deploy water power technologies.
The bill is also cosponsored by Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and David B. McKinley (R-WV).
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 41 of her colleagues in securing $148 million for Fiscal Year 2020 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.