Ocean energy poised for takeoff

Though wind power is the fastest-growing renewable energy source, many researchers, power companies, and municipal officials are looking to the oceans for juice. Though it is in its infancy, ocean power — generated from either waves or the tides beneath — shows great promise. According to the Electric Power Research Institute, the amount of wave energy off U.S. coasts represents nine to 10 times the power generated by the nation’s hydroelectric dams. Test projects are in the works for New York’s East River, San Francisco, and Hawaii. Though they caution that the effects of ocean turbines on wildlife need to be carefully studied, most environmental groups are optimistic. “The bedrock of a robust electricity system is a diversity of energy sources,” said EPRI’s Hank Courtright. Adds Jared Blumenfeld of San Francisco’s environment department, “We need to take some calculated risks with new technologies.”