Legislation approved by the US Senate to benefit renewable energy generators is a let down for the hydro industry, says the National Hydropower Association (NHA).
Representatives of the Senate voted last week 92 to 5 in favour of the corporate tax bill S. 1637, which provides some 1.8cent/kWh of production tax credit (PTC) for renewable technologies including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal power.
But by excluding ‘incremental hydro power’ – new generation derived from the addition of extra capacity or the improvement of efficiency at existing facilities – the US is to miss out on the potential development of some 4300MW of hydro capacity or enough to power around 1.4 million households, according to NHA.
‘By failing to include incremental hydro power in the Section 45 PTC, we have left off the table a proven resource that provides numerous power, environmental and societal benefits to millions of energy consumers in the United States,’ said NHA executive director Linda Church Ciocci. ‘Without financial incentives, a large amount of hydro power potential will continue to sit unused at a time when we clearly need more clean, domestic energy.’
For the legislation to be passed into US law, the House of Representatives has to also approve a similar bill, before a conference to resolve differences between the House and Senate, and then a final vote on the issue.
‘While we are disappointed, we remain hopeful that as Congress continues to debate the issue of incentives for new renewable energy, they will understand the short-sighted nature of excluding incremental hydro power and find a way to include it, or even a portion of it, in the Section 45 PTC,’ added Ciocci. ‘Without question, it’s the right thing to do in terms of energy security, electric grid reliability and clean air.’