Senate passes two Wyden renewable energy bills

Senate Ron Wyden, D-Ore announced the Senate passed two bills he wrote to increase domestic production of low-carbon renewable energy from underground hotspots and the power in ocean waves, tides and currents.

Wyden’s Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act would boost domestic production of renewable energy from ocean waves, tides and currents and facilitate private investment in potential projects. His Geothermal Energy Opportunities Act would encourage geothermal production by streamlining government permitting and mapping geothermal resources.

Wyden pushed for his bills to be included in the bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act, which the Senate passed by a vote of 85 to 12.

“Climate change is a massive challenge, but the only way to take it on is by putting points on the board right now. By capturing the power from geothermal hotspots in the ground and from ocean waves, tides and currents, our nation has the potential to power millions of homes and businesses with clean, renewable energy,” Wyden said. “Geothermal and marine power generate homegrown clean electricity that can reduce our dependence on coal and other fossil fuels, which is why I’m proud to see these bills pass the Senate today.”

Oregon’s geothermal resource is ranked third in the nation, with the potential to produce at least 2,200 MW of electric power – enough energy to power about 1.5 million homes a year. The Department of Energy estimates that there is enough energy found in waves, tidal streams and ocean currents to power millions of homes.

Wyden first introduced the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act as chair of the Energy Committee in 2013. He reintroduced the bill last year with Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

Wyden’s Geothermal Energy Opportunities Act included a smaller bill, the Geothermal Production Expansion Act that he introduced in March 2015 along with Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Jim Risch, R-Idaho. The Geothermal Production Expansion Act passed the Senate in 2014.

Wyden is a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.