Obama signs two bills to encourage hydropower development

President Obama on Aug. 9 signed into law H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013.

The bipartisan legislation, authored by House Energy and Commerce Committee members Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Diana DeGette, D-Colo., will help facilitate the development of new hydropower projects across the country by reducing red tape, said an Aug. 12 statement from the committee’s GOP majority.

H.R. 267 streamlines the permitting process for conduit hydropower projects under 5 MW, such as projects located on canals and tunnels, as well as for certain other small hydropower projects under 10 MW. Renewable sources of energy including hydropower are an important component of the House Republicans’ “all of the above” energy strategy to achieve energy independence, keep costs down for consumers, and create jobs, the GOP statement added.

“Hydropower is clean, reliable, renewable and affordable,” said McMorris Rodgers. “Unleashing American ingenuity to increase its production will lower energy costs and help create thousands of jobs. The future of American energy independence depends on the development of an ‘all of the above’ energy approach – in which hydro must play a crucial role. This new law will create jobs and bolster America’s competitiveness in the energy sector.”

Hydropower is the United States’ largest renewable electricity source, representing nearly 8% of the nation’s electricity generation portfolio. New hydropower development has the potential to produce thousands of megawatts of affordable power and create thousands of new jobs in the process. Estimates are that new hydropower development could produce up to 60,000 MW of new capacity and create over 700,000 jobs by 2025.

H.R. 267 was passed with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 422 to 0 in the House and by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate.

A White House statement from Aug. 9 shows that Obama actually signed two hydro bills that day:

  • H.R. 267, the “Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013,” which modifies the Federal Power Act and the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act to promote and facilitate the development of hydroelectric power capacity; and
  • H.R. 678, the “Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act,” which amends the Reclamation Project Act of 1939 to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to contract for small conduit hydropower development at Reclamation facilities.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.