Welcome to the February edition of A Capitol View

Could this year mark a sea change for federal investment in hydro power? More money is beginning to flow – along with calls for Washington to do far more to help commercialize an industry that many see as an overlooked, untapped source of clean energy.

New funding: Greater federal investment is on the horizon for research and development of marine energy due to the recently passed Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act and other government appropriations bills.

The Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office is set to announce this month new funding opportunities for tidal energy demonstration projects and SMI has been working with clients to shape federal initiatives that support the National Hydropower Association’s “Commercialization Strategy for Marine Energy” that was released in 2021.

In recent meetings with DOE, SMI sought to align current government efforts so that they maximize ways to commercialize the domestic marine energy sector.

“It is going to take a lot more work, but it was a good opportunity to share near-term private sector and university RD&D needs with DOE leaders,” shared SMI VP Paul Gay Paul Gay. “From our perspective, much of the clean energy discussion now underway here in Washington focuses on wind, solar, offshore wind, and battery storage. Water power, and particularly marine energy, seems to be left out of the discussion despite the incredible scale and reliability of the resources.”

Power from the Ocean: The U.S. Navy is also planning to deploy three wave energy technologies later this year at its Wave Energy Test Site in Hawaii.

“The upcoming deployments should prove that wave energy has a role in providing at-sea power and shore energy solutions for a variety of defense applications,” said SMI senior VP Damian Kunko.  

And the FY 2023 Defense appropriations bill included $20M for marine energy research, development, and demonstration sponsored by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command and the Naval Sea Systems Command.

The Navy outlined its big ideas in a recent video, maintaining that if the oceans can be harnessed – and everyone agrees it won’t be easy – it could power every home in the country twice over.

“We, the Navy, are operating and maintaining a test site for others to come in and learn more, demonstrate more about their technology to accelerate getting to a commercial result,” the service attests.

The Navy also just hosted an Operational Energy Forum and included marine energy technologies in plans for tactical and shore power options. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also funding small modular hydropower technology development with $20 million included in its FY 2023 R&D budget.

The players: SMI reps some of the leading marine energy innovators, including Oscilla Power, which has been getting new attention for its Triton system which was one of Time magazine’s best inventions of 2022. Other promising players include C-Power, Ocean Power, as well as Oregon State University.

“Now what is required,” says Paul, “is the political will to put in place the federal policies and funding to drive ongoing innovations and deployments to sustain and grow a domestic-based supply chain.”


This month we’re showcasing our crack team of SMI analysts, who support our lobbyists and consultants on a range of policy and appropriations work:

Gabriella Armonda, who joined the team a year and a half ago, supports SMI President and CEO Bill McCann and his clients on defense manufacturing, life sciences, and small business grants. Before joining SMI, she interned for Rep. Jamie Raskin and Sen. Benjamin Cardin of her native Maryland, helping them craft legislation on foreign and defense policy.

Gabriella graduated from George Washington University with a major in Political Communications and a minor in the Spanish Language. Gabriella is also an avid skier, runner, and globe trotter.

Kaycee Beardeaux, who joined the team a year ago, supports Mark Gillman, Drew Ronneberg, and other members of the SMI team on a portfolio including the defense industrial base, clean energy technology, and manufacturing. Prior to SMI, she interned for Senate Appropriator Brian Schatz, who represents her home state of Hawaii.

Kaycee brings a diverse professional and academic background. She has experience in political communications, grassroots organizing, and Middle East policy. Kaycee studied Arabic at The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.

In her free time, Kaycee hangs out with her Husky Bobo at the dog park and loves playing a friendly poker game with friends. She is also an avid cook and loves to make soup.

William Willkomm, who joined the team a year and a half ago, supports Ken Wetzel, SMI’s Chief Operating Officer, and his clients on defense industrial base issues, domestic manufacturing, microelectronics, and advanced materials.

Before coming to SMI, Will did a fellowship at the National Association of Counties and interned for former Rep. Elaine Luria (VA-02), where he worked on national security and defense policy. He holds a master’s degree in legislative affairs from George Washington University, and he received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Maine.

Will, a native of Philadelphia, likes to shoot hoops and is a dedicated Philly sports fan. His pastimes include talking politics and eating popcorn. But not at the same time.

Camryn Anderson, joined SMI in September 2021 and supports Senior VP Jeremy Steslicki on various issues, from shipbuilding issues to microelectronics, and university research. Prior to joining SMI, Camryn interned for her home-state Sen. Bill Cassidy.

Camryn also worked with the American Fisheries Society to pass the bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and on marine trade in the Atlantic during her time with the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., a nonpartisan international think tank.

Camryn graduated from American University with an interdisciplinary degree in Communications, Legal studies, Economics, and Government (CLEG) and holds a minor in sustainability management from the Kogod School of Business.

Camryn enjoys competing in kickball on the National Mall, dog spotting, and scootering around D.C.


The DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory has released a 26-point action plan to bolster the domestic supply chain for lithium batteries, the latest step as the Biden administration seeks to accelerate the expansion of the manufacturing base to help reach its goal of zero emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: “This roadmap is an important next step in developing a larger U.S. footprint in the lithium battery supply chain and gives industry and government quantifiable goals to benchmark and improve in the near and mid-term,” said SMI Director Samm Gillard, calling it “a very ambitious plan to domestically capture 60 percent of the value added for the lithium battery supply chain.”


Chips Ahoy: The National Institute of Standards and Technology, an arm of the Department of Commerce, has released the first funding opportunity under the CHIPS for America Act to incentivize the domestic manufacture of semiconductors.

Commerce is overseeing $50 billion to revitalize the U.S. semiconductor industry, including $39 billion in semiconductor incentives.

New foothold: The United States Footwear Manufacturers Association convenes in D.C. on March 9th for its spring meeting.

On the agenda for the trade association, which is headed by SMI President and CEO Bill McCann: the state of the domestic footwear industrial base, production outlook, and trade issues impacting the industry.

Guest speakers will include Sen. Angus King (ME) and Acting Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Sushan Demirjian.

Check out USFMA’s recent letter to Congress outlining members’ trade priorities.

Need to know: New Balance sneaks are apparently all the rage in Paris this season, according to this trained observer.


The president’s FY 2024 federal budget request will be sent to Congress on March 9. But once again the programmatic details will be delayed until later in the month.

SMI is keeping a close watch on the Pentagon proposal, which is expected to come in above the $858 billion that was approved for national defense for fiscal 2023, including the nuclear weapons spending that falls under DOE.

Why it matters: That would mark the biggest defense budget in history. But House and Senate appropriations and armed services leaders anticipate a fierce cross-party debate over defense funding levels in the face of skyrocketing federal debt.

Also on our radar: The Biden administration on March 2 will release its National Cybersecurity Strategy at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, featuring National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.


Empty Bins in a Wartime Environment: The Challenge to the U.S. Defense Industrial Base.

Defense Innovation Unit Year in Review. 


U.S. Sen. Young touts CHIPS and Science Act during Samtec visit 

New footage showing discovery of Titanic wreckage released 

Supercapacitor Patch Could Solve Power Problem for Wearables