Hydropower Expansion Could Create 700,000 US Jobs

As many as 700,000 jobs could be created by the construction of new hydropower capacity in the United States by 2025, according to a new study released Tuesday by the National Hydropower Association (NHA).

Just 3 percent of the nation’s more than 82,000 dams generate electricity. The industry estimates it could add 60,000 MW of new capacity by 2025, enough to serve 17 million homes, the NHA said.

“That represents a tremendous amount of untapped potential in this country,” said NHA President Andrew Munro, one of several hydropower advocates participating in a press conference Tuesday. 

To reach that goal, however, new policies that promote the increased use of renewable energy are needed, said Mark Garner, president and chief executive officer of Voith Hydro.

“We’ve hired 190 new employees,” Garner said. “This is just the beginning of what we see as the potential.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell urged Congress to pass a national renewable energy standard, which would require utilities to produce a certain amount of power from renewable resources. Such a standard, Rendell said, would accelerate the development of new hydropower production in the United States.

“I looked at (Pennsylvania’s) hydro capacity and saw that it was one of the most underutilized of all our resources,” Rendell said. “I think the future of hydro is unlimited.”

The new study was prepared by Navigant Consulting and commissioned by the NHA.

“This study confirms what our experience at Voith Hydro has already shown – investments in hydropower lead directly to good-paying, long-lasting American jobs,” Garner said.

NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci identified four ways that Congress can foster the development of new hydropower capacity in the United States:

– Enact a national renewable energy standard that recognizes hydropower

– Support long-term tax incentives that give hydro parity with other renewable resources

– Accelerate licensing for pumped-storage and small hydro projects

– Increase funding for the research and development of new hydropower technologies

“Current hydropower capacity alone helps us avoid 225 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, so the contributions are significant,” Church Ciocci said. (From HydroWorld.com)

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