Candice S. Miller

Harnessing Water Power for Energy - July 15, 2009

Candice S. Miller
July 15, 2009— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
Print friendly

Mr. Chairman, I rise to introduce my amendment made in order under the rule.

There has been a great deal of discussion in recent weeks and months about the issue of energy. Specifically the need for our nation to generate and utilize renewable and clean energy.

I have lived my entire life on the shores of the Great Lakes and have spent much time boating on those magnificent waterways. I have always been awed by the power of that water flowing from Lake Superior all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. I have watched the water flow under the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, Michigan and been amazed at the swiftness and consistency with which that water moves.

I believe the energy created by that water flow is a source of energy we must do more to harness for the use of our people and industry. To that end my amendment would increase by $10 million dollars, the Water Power Energy program within the Department of Energy. Increasing this vitally important program by $10 million dollars will restore the program back to the FY 2009 funding levels.

The Water Power program within the Department of Energy is extraordinarily important program to our overall goal of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and becoming a nation more reliant on renewable and green sources of energy. The Water Power energy program is a program designed to develop, test and evaluate new water technologies and address barriers to development of hydrokinetics and hydropower.

The program conducts important research and development and deploys new, innovative water technologies in order to get those products on the market in an expedient, cost efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Additionally this program allows for testing and modeling of existing technologies.

Hydropower technology has literally been around for hundreds of years, beginning with the earliest waterwheels and watermills which helped produce flour from grains, sawing timber, and powering textile plants, to today’s more advanced technologies from hydroelectricity to harnessing wave and tidal power. Hydropower currently accounts for approximately 19% of the world’s electric needs and produces no harmful emissions but it only accounts for approximately 5.75% of the total United States electricity needs.

Compare that to our neighbors to the North, Canada, who uses hydropower to meet 61% of their energy needs. While hydropower only accounts for 5.75% of our total energy needs, it makes up 71% of our total renewable electricity and produces enough electricity to power 28 million households.

There are two examples from the great state of Michigan where this technology is being examined. I already mentioned the St. Clair River, but I should also mention the Detroit River. These rivers are known for their strong currents which move water through these channels at approximately 6 knots. Water from Lake Huron funnels down into the St. Clair River, through Lake St. Clair, and then quickens again through the Detroit River before entering Lake Erie, where the energy from that current dissipates.

This technology can be put to work in rivers, harbors, and other coastal areas to capture energy from currents and tides. The best part is this can be achieved with minimal impact on the environment or the flow of the river. Harnessing this energy will create a truly renewable and green source of clean energy.

Mr. Chairman, there has been a great deal of interest in alternative energy sources in the past weeks. Many have expressed strong support for wind power, I share their support for that energy source. But I will remind my colleagues that sometimes the wind doesn’t blow, but the water always flows.

I ask all of my colleagues to support my amendment and I yield back the balance of my time.

155 Congr. Rec. H8140. (2009).