Obama Signs Legislation to Expand Hydropower

Joanna Schroeder

relaunch_dam Photo Voith HydroPresident Obama has signed into law the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act. The hydropower legislation is designed to expand hydropower production in the U.S. by improving and streamlining the licensing process.

“President Obama’s signature on hydropower legislation is terrific news for expanding renewable energy and creating jobs across the country,” said Voith Hydro President and CEO Kevin Frank in response to the signing. “There’s no better indication that hydropower is at the center of the national policy debate than the widespread and bipartisan support these bills received in both the House and Senate. We wouldn’t have gotten to this point without the outstanding leadership of Chairman Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Murkowski (R-AK) in the Senate and Representatives McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) in the House.”

The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act will improve the permitting process for small and conduit hydropower projects on Bureau of Reclamation facilities. The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act will:

  • Increase the small hydro exemption to 10 MW (currently at 5MW);
  • Remove conduit projects under 5 MW from FERC jurisdiction and increase the conduit exemption to 40 MW for all projects;
  • Provide FERC the ability to extend preliminary permits; and
  • Require FERC to examine a 2-year licensing process for non-powered dams and closed loop pump storage.

The bill signing comes on the heels of last month’s HydroVision International, where more than 3,000 people associated with the global hydropower industry gathered in Denver, Colorado and discussed challenges and opportunities for hydropower around the world.

“The passage of this legislation is a first but very important step in getting more clean, renewable, and job-creating hydropower to homes and businesses across the U.S.,” Frank continued. “We thank President Obama for his support for America’s largest renewable resource.”

Electricity, Hydro, Renewable Energy