The US House of Representatives unanimously passed the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 that seeks to promote the growth of mini hydro and in-conduit projects in the country.
The Act, also known as House Resolution 267 sailed through 422-0, and will improve the regulatory environment for hydropower development as well as helping developers tap into the estimated 60,000MW potential.
Streamlining the approval process followed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for low impact proposals, the Act will increase the exemption limit for small hydro projects to10MW capacity.
The Act will also remove conduit projects under 5MW from the jurisdiction for the FERC while increasing the conduit deliverance to 40MW for all projects.
National Hydropower Association executive director Linda Church Ciocci welcomed the passing of the legislation.
"NHA applauds today’s passage of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act. The unanimous vote demonstrates that policymakers view hydropower as a solution to the nation’s energy challenges and believe we should expand its contribution to America’s energy mix," said Ciocci.
The Act provides FERC with the ability to extend preliminary permits while requiring the agency to examine a two-year licensing process for non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped-storage.
The Act now heads to the Senate for its approval.