Federal budget could increase money for hydroelectric power, MHK programs

Senate

The proposed federal budget unveiled late Monday would lessen the blows many expected to be dealt to several hydroelectric power-related agencies, should Congress approve it in a vote expected to take place as soon as tomorrow.                                             

The $1.07 billion package is largely being hailed as a bipartisan win and would keep the federal government funded through the end of current fiscal year on September 30.

Based on previous statements and cabinet appointments made by President Donald Trump, the expectation was that a number of agencies, including the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency, could take significant hits in the FY 2017 budget, though the proposal actually increases funding for some programs.

Notably, EPA would receive $8.06 billion — or less than a 1% reduction from 2016 levels — under the proposed budget, though the agency would have a staffing cap of 15,000 employees. Trump had previously promised to slash the EPA’s budget by more than 30% while eliminating over 3,200 jobs.

Elsewhere in the proposal, DOE’s budget would increase by about $1.4 billion to $31.2 billion, with an increased $4 billion allowance for its applied energy programs. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would receive a $17 million increase for $2.1 billion in total spending power.

Specifically, DOE is directed by the budget to “continue competitive solicitations for a balanced portfolio of industry-led research, development, and deployment of ocean, river, and tidal energy conversion components and systems.”

The budget provides $25,000,000 for conventional and pumped-storage development, with $6,600,000 earmarked to support Sec. 242 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Up to $3,000,000 is also allocated for a “techno-economic analysis of the value of pumped storage hydropower” at two unnamed sites previously identified as being susceptible to intermittency issues.

A further $59,000,000 is allocated for MHK research and development, with $30,000,000 to be provided for an open-water wave energy test facility and $4,00,000 to support collaborations between universities, federally-designated marine renewable energy centers and National Laboratories.

Meanwhile, DOE’s Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, which Trump had previously vowed to eliminate, would receive more than $300 million. DOE’s Office of Science would also see its budget increased to $5.4 billion.

Interior could also see its budget increase by $42 million to about $12.3 billion.

“This agreement is a good agreement for the American people and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in a statement.

Full text of the proposed federal budget is available here.

This story will update as more information becomes available.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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