Bipartisan legislation to promote the development of hydropower resources and their economic and job creation benefits in the US re-introduced this week by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Diana DeGette has been endorsed by the National Hydropower Association.
H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, promotes the development of small hydropower and conduit projects and aims to shorten regulatory timeframes of certain other low-impact hydropower projects, such as adding power generation to the nation’s existing non-powered dams.
McMorris Rodgers and DeGette were joined by group of bipartisan co-sponsors: Reps. John Dingell (D-MI), Bob Latta (R-OH), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Lee Terry (R-NE), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jim Matheson (D-UT), and Greg Walden (R-OR) to introduce the bill.
“NHA appreciates the bipartisan leadership that Reps. McMorris Rodgers and DeGette have demonstrated and looks forward to working with them to get this bill to the President’s desk. With so much untapped potential in the U.S. to increase both clean electricity and jobs, hydropower has the ability to be a driving force behind America’s economic growth," said NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci.
Hydropower currently provides about two-thirds of the nation’s renewable electricity, with over 90,000MW of installed capacity from coast to coast, and currently employs approximately 300,000 workers. Estimates done by Navigant Consulting indicate that 60,000MW of hydropower could be added with the right policies in place, while creating 1.4 million cumulative jobs. The legislation would unlock some of that untapped potential.
“I’m so proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reintroduce this bill," said McMorris Rodgers in a statement. "In Eastern Washington, hydropower plays a pivotal role – whether it’s conventional, small, or conduit hydro – it provides 75 percent of electricity to the Pacific Northwest and represents a unique opportunity for job creation and energy production. It’s clean, reliable, renewable and affordable. Unleashing American ingenuity to increase hydropower production will lower energy costs and help create thousands of jobs. The future of American energy independence depends on the development of an ‘all of the above’ energy approach – and I’m proud that hydro is finally on its way to being part of it."
“Today we launch a new path toward smarter, more efficient hydropower project permitting, and it’s a victory for us all that we are doing so on a bipartisan basis," said DeGette in a statement. "For a state like Colorado, and indeed the entire nation, this legislation will expand renewable and affordable hydropower – far and away our nation’s largest source of clean energy – and create good jobs for American families. Together, the House will continue the bipartisan spirit in which the Act was created, to help get Americans back to work and take a step forward in our nation’s clean energy leadership."
The bill had previously been introduced last Congress by McMorris Rodgers and DeGette. It enjoyed the endorsement of both industry and the environmental community, with NHA and American Rivers both testifying in support.
The House of Representatives moved quickly on the legislation last year, passing the bill unanimously in July following a swift committee process.
NHA is optimistic for the prospects of hydropower legislation in the 113th Congress. Incoming Senate Energy Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and the committee’s Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have signaled that hydropower is one area on which they intend to act on early. Murkowski introduced and Wyden co-sponsored a similar bill, S. 629 the Hydropower Improvement Act, last year.
"The bipartisan support is there on both sides of the Hill. NHA will definitely be working to ensure that hydropower regulatory improvements become law as soon as possible," Ciocci said.