Proposal Could Open Reclamation Facilities for Non-federal Pumped Storage Development

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a legislative hearing earlier this week that could open some Bureau of Reclamation facilities up for non-federal pumped storage development.

Sec. 9(c)(1) of the existing Reclamation Project Act of 1939 allows for the development of small conduit hydropower by non-federal entities on some Reclamation properties.

However, legislation introduced by subcommittee chair Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., would modify that by adding “and pumped storage hydropower development utilizing multiple Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs” to the act.

If approved, the Bureau of Reclamation Pumped Storage Hydropower Development Act — officially House Resolution 20 — would “stimulate non-federal pumped storage hydropower development in the 17 western states,” according to a subcommittee memo.

H.R. 20 would also help remove some of the ambiguity regarding federal oversight of potential pumped storage projects to-be located on USBR facilities by clearly designating Reclamation as the lead agency.

“This hearing marks another step toward improving our nation’s infrastructure,” Lamborn said. “Today’s main focus is what we can do to empower regional, state and local leaders in developing hydropower at zero federal cost.”

The House committee also heard testimony on H.R. 220, which would allow for the expansion of the 31-MW Terror Lake plant on Kodiak Island, Alaska. The Senate Subcommittee on Energy & Natural Resources approved a similar bill last week.

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