Vermont following Colorado’s lead for small hydro development

MONTPELIER, Vt. 5/17/12 (PennWell) — A bill that would benefit hydropower developers in the state of Vermont is making its way toward Governor Peter Shumlin’s desk.

In recent years, Vermont utilities have imported an increasing amount of electricity from outside sources, but the legislation aims to keep production within the state’s borders by making it easier for small hydroelectric projects to gain approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC).

The measure would require Vermont’s Commissioner of Public Service to enter into an agreement with FERC to approve small hydro projects.

The plan is similar to one already enacted in Colorado, which, according to panelists at the National Hydropower Association’s Annual Conference in April, has resulted in approval times for many small hydropower projects of months instead of years.

The proposal, available here in its entirety, says this would be particularly advantageous for Vermont because a 2008 report indicates the bulk of the state’s estimated 434 MW of hydropower potential would come from facilities that would qualify for FERC exemption.

Such projects include facilities of 5 MW or less that are built at existing dams, projects of 15 MW or less at conduits for non-municipal projects, and projects of 40 MW or less at conduits for municipal projects.

The legislation would be effective immediately, assuming it is approved by Shumlin in the coming weeks.

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