H.R. 3680: Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2012

May 28, 2012

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Here’s the link to H.R. 3680: Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2012. Click here to watch the archived webcast of recent hearings by the Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Here’s a report about the hearings from Samantha Wright writing for the Telluride Daily Planet. From the article:

HR 3680 passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee with bipartisan support about two weeks ago, but its ultimate fate is still unclear. Companion legislation passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in April 2011. If it becomes law, the bill could have a huge positive impact on exactly the kinds of projects that are Kurt Johnson’s bread and butter. Johnson is the President of the Colorado Small Hydro Association (COSHA) and principal at Telluride Energy, a small hydro development and consulting firm. Most of his clients simply seek to take advantage of existing infrastructure, including dams, pipelines and irrigation canals, to create a small steady stream of green electricity.

Johnson recently traveled to Washington DC to testify on the bill’s behalf. As the nation embarks on an “all-of the-above” domestic energy strategy, Johnson told legislators, “We need to dramatically step up the pace of utilizing the massive, currently-untapped resource of small hydro.

“The problem is, the FERC process is particularly burdensome for very small projects, where the cost of FERC compliance can potentially exceed the cost of hydro equipment,” he testified. “Many projects do not get built once people understand the law.” Or, they get built under the radar – in what Johnson calls “guerrilla hydro.”

More coverage from Michael Harris writing for RenewableEnergy.com. From the article:

The bipartisan bill — called the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2012 — was introduced by representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Diane DeGette (D-Colo.).

Contained in the bill are measures that would “facilitate the development of hydropower and conduit projects through several common-sense reforms,” including:

–Updating the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license exemption standard to streamline the development of more hydro projects;

–Giving FERC the option to exempt hydro projects with a capacity of less than 10 MW and conduit projects with capacity between 5 and 40 MW from the permitting process; and

–Allowing FERC to extend the terms of a preliminary permit for up to two years, for a total of five years, in order to allow a permittee sufficient time to develop and file a license application.

Currently, the licensing of hydropower projects can take longer than other forms of renewable energy, according to testimony given by former National Hydropower Association (NHA) president and Grant County Public Utility District official Andrew Munro…

The bill is similar to one co-sponsored by senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) that passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a voice vote in April 2011.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.


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