Senate Approves Ocean Energy Policies

While the energy bill forming in the Senate tilts as expected toward the fossil and nuclear power industries, most renewable energy technologies are likely to gain something as well. The odds for ocean energy, however, are not as sure. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, brought the technology front and center this week by addressing the Senate on the benefits of ocean energy and the need to extend favorable federal policy to the nascent technology in order to help accelerate its use along the US’s vast coastlines.

“We have talked a lot about renewables and alternatives,” said Murkowski, addressing the Senate during energy bill debate. “One of those areas that we have not heard a lot of discussion on, in terms of the renewables, is the area of ocean energy. When we look at our globe and at all those colors, we recognize that we have a heck of a lot of ocean to deal with, and there is great potential there. Murkowski broadly defined ocean energy to include wave energy converters, tidal energy converters and even a new, but promising, approach known as ocean thermal energy technology. This process generates electricity from the stark temperature differential of surface and deeper waters (see related article at the link below). According to Sen. Murkowski’s congressional staff, the Senate version of the broad energy bill now contains an amendment from the Senator that will extend the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) of 1.9 cents per kWh to ocean energy. Sen. Murkowski’s staff said the amendment also contains a second item to extend Federal purchase requirement assistance to ocean energy. As of press time, the specifics of this requirement are not clear, but will be forthcoming as more information develops. “The additional cost of these two provisions is insignificant,” Sen. Murkowski said. “But they could greatly diversify the Nation’s energy portfolio in future decades. We recognize that the ocean is an energy source that is truly renewable. I am looking, through my amendment, to help aid Americans to harness that energy from our 12,000 miles of coastline. It is something that we need to look to as a positive reality and give the encouragement where necessary.” While the amendment appears secured in the Senate, it will still need to be supported when the Senate and House versions of the energy bill are consolidated.
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