March 5, 2014

Washington, D.C. — Last week, Dr. Belinda Batten (pictured here), Director of the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC), co-located at Oregon State University and the University of Washington, testified before the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in support of S. 1419, the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2013.

S. 1419 is bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Murkowski (R-AK) that would reauthorize the Department of Energy’s marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) research and development activities under the Wind and Water Power Program. S. 1419 supports the development of MHK testing facilities and also provides research funding for this nascent renewable energy industry. S. 1419 also includes limited regulatory efficiencies for siting MHK demonstration and test projects.

NNMREC is a competitively designated U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Center with the mission of advancing understanding of MHK technologies. NNMREC has become globally recognized for research, development and testing in marine renewable energy and serves as a “one stop shop” for technology developers; federal, state and local regulatory and resource agencies; and community stakeholders.

Dr. Batten testified that “reauthorization of the Department of Energy’s Water Power Program through S. 1419 is essential to providing the continued funding that this industry needs at this stage of its development. This is particularly true when you keep in mind that funding from the DOE Water Power Program is the one key mechanism to support U.S. technology developers competing against overseas companies that receive a suite of subsidies.”

Ocean energy can play a significant role in our nation’s renewable energy portfolio. “The Water Power Program has recently completed comprehensive resource assessments that identify the potential of the nation's waves, as well as tidal, ocean, and river currents,” testified Mike Carr (pictured here), the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office. Carr added that “the Department supports the goals of ensuring United States leadership in innovating, validating, and manufacturing MHK technologies domestically, as well as deploying these technologies sustainably in order to harness the energy potential of our various water resources while building a clean energy economy.”

Dr. Batten offered her support for DOE’s vision for the U.S. MHK industry but noted that “Members of the European Union have spent almost $1 billion over the past ten years on MHK development and have made this technology a priority. By establishing a comparable
[program] in the United States, we can grow a MHK industry that will provide new economic opportunities, high wage jobs and a clean energy source to coastal communities.”