Hydropower Gains Support in Bipartisan Bill

Hydropower’s advantages as a cost-effective renewable energy source continue making themselves known as two congresswomen introduced bipartisan legislation that would promote development in the industry.

The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2011, introduced by representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), promotes the development of small hydropower and conduit projects. The bill (H.R. 3680) also aims to shorten regulatory timeframes of certain types of hydropower projects.

In brief, the bill has substantive language that would:

— Increase the small hydro exemption from 5 to 10 MW

— Remove conduit projects under 5 MW from FERC jurisdiction and increase the conduit exemption to 40 MW for all projects

— Provide FERC the ability to extend preliminary permits

— Require FERC to investigate a 2-year licensing process for non-powered dams and closed loop pump storage

— Require DOE to further study the potential from pumped storage and also conduit projects

— Require a report on the federal hydropower MOU

The bill is similar to one cleared by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this year. That one, called the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011, was introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkoski (R-Ark.) and eight bipartisan co-sponsors in March 2011. It currently awaits action by the full Senate.


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