The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Homeland Security to explore hydrokinetic power, which is the potential for energy generation from waves, tides and currents.
"Hydrokinetic development is an up-and-coming resource and this MOU provides valuable coordination between FERC and the Coast Guard to ensure an efficient process while protecting valuable environmental resources," FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said in a statement.
FERC last year backed a 30-blade underwater turbine, which could generate 1 megawatt of power from river currents, for the East River in New York. In August, the agency backed the deployment of 10 buoys developed by Ocean Power Technology that would generate as much as 1.5 MW from the kinetic energy from waves off Oregon.
The Energy Department said prices for hydrokinetic energy projects, such as wave power buoys and underwater turbines, are higher than more conventional forms of energy.
New hydrokinetic projects are moving toward commercialization, though there are only 40 sites in the world that have tidal variances great enough to produce electricity.