Regulation and Policy, Research and Development

UPDATE – Senate committee endorses $4 million for hydro R&D

In an unexpected move, the Senate Appropriations Committee June 29 endorsed $4 million to revive the Department of Energy’s zero-funded hydropower research and development program.

The hydro R&D money was included in a $30.7 billion energy and water development appropriations bill. The full committee approved the bill two days after its Energy and Water subcommittee passed the measure, which provides $24.7 billion for DOE, and money for the Bureau of Reclamation, Corps of Engineers, and independent agencies. (HNN 6/28/06)

The Bush administration’s budget for the coming fiscal year includes nothing for DOE’s hydropower R&D program. The previous budget, for the year ending Sept. 30, included $495,000 to dismantle the advanced hydropower turbine R&D program and to turn such work over to private industry.

Energy and Water Subcommittee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said the newly endorsed spending bill would provide $380 million for energy-related activities authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It includes $4 million for advanced hydro, $148 million for solar, $213 million for biomass, restoration of $22.5 million for geothermal R&D, and $95.3 million for building technology.

The hydropower allotment would support goals of Section 931 of the Energy Policy Act, which requires DOE to conduct a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application for cost-competitive technologies that enable development of new and incremental hydropower capacity. Technologies include fish-friendly large turbines, and advanced technologies to enhance environmental performance and yield greater energy efficiencies.

Section 931 also requires DOE to conduct R&D, demonstration, and commercial application programs for ocean energy, including wave energy and kinetic hydro turbines.