Senate panel endorses $10 million for hydro, kinetic R&D

The Senate Appropriations Committee recommends Congress allocate a total of $10 million to reinstate the Department of Energy’s hydropower research and development program and to create a new R&D program for hydrokinetic energy.

The committee voted 28-1 on June 28 to recommend that the $32.8 billion 2008 Energy and Water appropriations bill (S.1751) be reported to the Senate. Because Congress recessed for the Fourth of July holiday shortly after the vote, the language of the bill, as passed by committee, was not released for two weeks.

A committee report ordered printed July 9 said the bill recommends that $2 million be appropriated to resume the Energy Department’s hydropower program, which received no funding in fiscal year 2007. The bill also recommends $8 million be provided to initiate a new R&D effort authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that would explore technologies that could convert kinetic energy from non-impounded water sources, such as waves, currents, and tidal streams into energy.

Senate offers less than half $22 million backed by House panel

The Senate panel’s figure is less than half that endorsed by the House Appropriations Committee, which June 6 recommended Congress allocate $22 million to DOE for research and development of hydropower and its emerging technologies, including ocean, tidal, and in-stream hydrokinetic systems. (HNN 6/8/07)

The House committee bill (H.R.2641) recommended appropriations for hydro be directed to several areas: $7 million to the Energy Department’s advanced turbine program; $6 million to research, development, and deployment of new technologies; $5 million to hydropower resource assessments at dams; and $4 million to environmental studies for conventional and new hydropower technologies.

Both appropriations bill would cover the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, 2007, and ends Sept. 30, 2008. Both bills still require passage by the full House and full Senate. Differences in the bills would be worked out in conference committee.

President Bush’s budget proposal for the 2008 fiscal year included no money for hydropower activities in the Energy Department for a second consecutive year. For FY 2006, Congress appropriated $495,000 to complete closeout of the program, which was zero-funded in FY 2007.

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