Troy, Michigan-based Current Connection is one of a handful of innovative businesses seeking to use currents in the waters in and around Michigan to generate renewable power. Hydrokinetic energy systems are being developed and deployed in Europe and elsewhere, but have been slow to obtain approvals and achieve deployment in the U.S. However, Tim Smith, CEO of Current Connection, says that his company is prepared to launch a test program in the St. Clair River this summer.
Unfortunately, regulatory approvals from a variety of state and local agencies have made the testing and deployment of new hydrokinetic technologies in Michigan difficult and slow. Certainly the state could do more to streamline and simplify the process – reducing duplication and coordinating reviews. The state has taken some tentative steps in this direction with respect to off-shore wind approvals, but so far hydrokinetic projects have not received the same kind of favorable attention. Meanwhile, Smith admits, "I could do this kind of project in China tomorrow. But we chose to do it here because this is where we're from." The state should be smoothing the path for this kind of homegrown hydrokinetic energy effort, rather than continuing to erect roadblocks.© 2013 Varnum LLP