The US national-hydropower-association (NHA) has praised the energy bills released by the Democratic party for including provisions that create incentives for incremental hydro power and address problems associated with the federal hydro licensing process.

The Democratic hydro provisions allow a licence applicant to suggest alternatives to mandatory licence conditions, recognise the importance of sound science, designate annual licensing fees to resource agencies and mandate a study of new licenses. But the bills do not remove an agency’s right to place mandatory conditions on a hydroelectric license.

The Democratic bills offer a response to the energy legislation which was introduced in February by Senator Frank Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee. Murkowski’s bill included hydro licensing reform language and an extension of the federal production tax credit to new capacity at operating hydroelectric projects. But Murkowski’s licensing reforms set deadlines which created an independent appeals process, requiring resource agencies to apply sound science and to consider power and other project benefits when issuing mandatory conditions.

The NHA is confident that a successful resolution with bi-partisan consensus can be reached this year and that is it possible to encourage clean, renewable hydro development while protecting and restoring rivers.
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