US senators unveil marine, hydrokinetic energy bill

Washington (Platts)--1Aug2013/515 pm EDT/2115 GMT


Two key US senators want to boost a budding hydropower sector by speeding up project approvals and putting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in charge of reviews.

Senators Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican and the committee's ranking member, unveiled the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act (S. 1419) on Thursday.

The bill is aimed at commercializing marine and hydrokinetic energy, which, unlike traditional hydropower, generates energy from waves, currents and tides without the use of a dam, which the senators said could reduce a project's environmental impact.

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"Seventy percent of the planet is covered with water, so the potential to generate clean, carbon-free electricity using marine and hydrokinetic energy is endless," Murkowski said in a statement.

Among other elements, the bill reauthorizes marine and hydrokinetic research at the Energy Department and streamlines the regulatory approval process by setting a one-year timeline for licensing new projects. The bill would make FERC the lead agency for coordinating environmental reviews of marine and hydrokinetic projects.

"The investment and regulatory efficiencies contained within this bill will be critical to move this segment of the industry to widespread commercialization," Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association, said in a statement.

There are currently no commercial marine and hydrokinetic projects in the US.

--Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@platts.com --Edited by Joshua Mann, joshua.mann@platts.com

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