NHA Drafts Legislation to Boost Hydropower Development

The National Hydropower Association is proposing draft legislation titled “Hydropower Renewable Energy and Jobs Act of 2010,” telling HydroWorld.com the bill is intended to significantly boost hydropower development and spur industry jobs growth.

“The purpose of the bill is to raise the profile of hydropower priorities and promote the resource’s many benefits as action moves ahead in Congress on a potential energy and or climate bill,” Jeffrey Leahey, senior manager of government and legal affairs for NHA said in a HydroWorld.com interview.

The draft legislation contains energy policy and tax provisions designed to incentivize investment in hydropower, NHA reported. Increasing capacity at existing hydro projects, powering non-powered dams, exploring new development options in pumped-storage hydropower and hydrokinetic projects all are backed by the draft legislation.

A recent study by Navigant Consulting Inc. estimates the hydropower industry could add 60,000 megawatts of new capacity by 2025. Up to 700,000 jobs could be created by 2025 if the potential for new capacity is met, the study suggests.

Linda Church Ciocci, NHA executive director, stated: “NHA is working to bust the myth that the U.S. hydropower potential is tapped out. The recent study by Navigant Consulting demonstrates that there is a significant growth opportunity for hydropower, particularly by maximizing existing infrastructure and pursuing pumped storage and new ocean, tidal and instream hydrokinetic technologies. This growth not only advances our nation’s environmental and domestic energy security goals but will also support hundreds of thousands of good-paying, family-supporting jobs in the hydro sector over the next 15 years. However, in order to see this renewable energy developed and the jobs potential fully realized, policy matters. Enactment of the economic incentives and energy policy provisions contained in the bill is needed to ensure that hydropower competes on an equal footing with other renewable and clean energy resources in the marketplace for investment. NHA is calling on Congress to include these provisions as part of any potential energy and or climate bill that moves ahead this year.”

The NHA bill incorporates many policies already supported by NHA, as well as some new proposals, Leahey said.

Hydropower Renewable Energy and Jobs Act of 2010 would:

  • Establish a national goal and policy of the United States to substantially increase the nation’s capacity and generation of sustainable hydropower and to improve environmental quality, supporting over 1.4 million American green energy jobs. Extend and/or expand several key tax incentives for hydropower development (PTC, ITC, CREBs, Section 1603 grants). The bill would also make some substantive changes to these programs (for example, PTC parity for hydropower and hydrokinetics, allow public power to utilize Section 1603; include energy storage technologies, including pumped storage, under the ITC and CREBs programs).
  • Require a FERC rulemaking to institute a 2-year licensing process for “minimal-impact” hydro projects, in particular development at existing dams, and closed-loop, off-river pumped storage.
  • Require the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate their processes for improvements to support increased development at federal facilities.
  • Support other hydro-related programs for R&D, loan guarantees and worker training, among others.

This article was written by HydroWorld.com Online Editor Shaun Epperson.

 

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