March 21, 2013 | Vol. 39, No. 12

U.S. Sen. Murkowski introduces bipartisan hydro bill to U.S

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013 last week in Washington D.C. The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), James Risch (R-Idaho), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Patty Murray (D-Washington), and Mark Begich (D-Alaska).

The bill seeks to substantially increase the United States’ hydropower capacity in an effort to expand clean-power generation and spur domestic job creation. As the country’s largest source of renewable energy, hydropower allows us to avoid approximately 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year. According to the Department of Energy, the U.S. has the potential for 300 gigawatts of additional hydropower.

Sen. Murkowski said hydroelectric must continue to grow across the nation.

“Hydropower is, and must continue to be, a major part of our energy solution. It is the largest source of renewable electricity generation in the United States, and our most cost-effective, clean energy option,” she said. “Hydro already supplies 24 percent of Alaska’s electricity needs and our state has identified more than 200 promising sites for further hydropower development. There is great potential for additional hydropower development across the country.”

Sen. Begich localized the hydro issue, focusing on the opportunities available in Alaska.

“Alaska holds over a third of our country’s untapped hydropower, our nation’s largest source of renewable energy,” he said. “This common-sense legislation will help develop fish-friendly hydro sites that lower ratepayers costs and help power Alaska homes.”

The Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011 provides the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with the authority to extend preliminary permit terms and directs FERC to explore a possible two-year licensing process for hydropower development at non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects.

The proposed act also establishes an expedited process for FERC to consider “qualifying conduit” hydropower facilities and increases the rated capacity for small hydro projects from five to 10 megawatts. The act does not contain any spending authorizations and therefore does not represent any new funding.

Reader Comments