I am so excited for the U.S. hydropower industry right now!
There is so much legislation being considered to bolster this industry, it’s a great time to be following the news … and writing about it.
Where do I start?
On April 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills designed to improve conditions for American hydroelectric power development. The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (House Resolution 678) passed with a 416-7 vote. The Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act (H.R. 254) passed with a vote of 400-4.
Just three weeks earlier, on March 20, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed H.R. 678. This legislation is intended to improve conditions for hydroelectric project development in the U.S. by cutting red tape and simplifying the permitting process for some projects. H.R. 254 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to facilitate the development of hydroelectric power on the Diamond Fork System of the Central Utah Project, which is a pipeline that moves water from Utah’s Strawberry Reservoir to Utah and Salt Lake counties.
Before that, on March 14, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski introduced the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 545). This reintroduced version of the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011 would promote the development of small hydropower and conduit projects by decreasing regulatory time frames of certain other low-impact hydro projects. This act is a companion piece to H.R. 267, or the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, which passed the House with a unanimous vote in February.
Today, April 23, HydroWorld.com online editor Michael Harris is in Washington, D.C., attending a full committee hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. This hearing was scheduled to consider testimony on several energy efficiency and hydropower bills. Three of these have already been mentioned — H.R. 678/S. 306, S. 545 and H.R. 267 — and the fourth is S. 761, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013.
Not to leave out the rest of the world, I’ve seen some favorable movement with regard to hydro legislation in other countries.
One example is the United Kingdom, where a 100 kW to 500 kW hydro band was introduced in March to the country’s feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme. Effective March 15, this new legislation will allow owners of projects with installed capacities of 100 kW to 500 kW to receive 12.48 pence to 15.98 pence per kWh, depending on whether the project was approved before or after the enactment date. U.K. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey says this legislation will enable investors and project developers to make investment decisions “before changes to the electricity market come into effect, ensuring that renewable electricity projects can get built.”
What’s next? Considering the rapidity with which this legislation is moving through the system, anything is possible. But whatever it is, this is an exciting time for hydro.
Tell me what you think about all the legislative activity going on in the hydro arena. How many of these bills are going to pass? Do you envision them affecting hydro?