U.S. Senate panel boosts DOE hydro research support to $60 million

The Senate Appropriations Committee has doubled a proposal of the House Appropriations Committee, endorsing $60 million for the Department of Energy’s hydropower research and development program, with a note to expand marine and hydrokinetic R&D.

The Senate panel endorsed its version of the annual energy and water appropriations bill, totaling $34.27 billion, on July 9, 2009, including the $60 million for the DOE waterpower program, twice the $30 million proposed by President Obama and endorsed by the House committee on July 8. (HydroWorld 7/9/09)

The Senate committee’s summary of the appropriation noted it was “$30 million above the president’s budget request for the Water Power R&D program to expand marine and hydrokinetic research, development, and deployment.”

The House Appropriations Committee endorsed a total $33.3 billion energy and water appropriations bill for the 2010 budget year that begins Oct. 1. While its $30 million for hydro R&D is equal to Obama’s budget recommendation, it is $10 million less than the amount appropriated for the current year. (HydroWorld 5/11/09)

DOE has said it would use the $30 million hydro R&D funding proposed for 2010 to continue technology development and testing, environmental impact studies, resources assessments, and cost analyses. The department’s waterpower program focuses on enabling the development and deployment of advanced waterpower technologies that will increase water-based electrical generation through marine and hydrokinetic technologies, and by increases in incremental conventional hydropower generation.

In an explanation accompanying Obama’s proposal, DOE said funds appropriated for the current year initiated priority activities for marine and hydrokinetic technology development and testing, environmental impact studies, resource assessments, and cost analyses. DOE said it also is using the funds to begin a national assessment of existing conventional hydropower infrastructure to identify opportunities for increased incremental generation, ancillary benefits, and improved environmental performance.

The House committee endorsed $208 million to DOE for electricity delivery and reliability, including $62.9 million for “smart” transmission grid research and development, $15 million for R&D of grid-connected energy storage technologies, and $42 million to increase grid efficiency and enable widespread deployment of clean, renewable energy. The Senate panel allotted $179.6 million for electricity and energy reliability to support integration of renewables into the grid.

Panels back water infrastructure spending

The energy and water spending bills would increase funding for the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation to help address infrastructure needs. The bills also invest in new technologies, scientific research, and conservation efforts.

Proposed spending of each committee for the Corps of Engineers totaled: House $5.5 billion, Senate $5.4 billion, up $416 million and $280 million, respectively, from the Corps’ budget request, to address water resource investment needs.

Categories within the Corps budget included:
o Operation and maintenance, House $2.5 billion, Senate $2.45 billion, to help address a $1 billion O&M backlog on navigation infrastructure, the House panel noted.
o Construction, House $2.1 billion, Senate $1.9 billion, for projects including ongoing flood protection work.
o Investigations, House $142 million, Senate $170 million, to plan and design the next generation of water resource infrastructure.

Each panel endorsed $1.1 billion to the Department of Interior, with the Bureau of Reclamation receiving $1 billion from the House panel and $1.1 billion from the Senate panel, for dams, canals, water treatment and conservation, and rural water projects.

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