As Congress faces tough questions about our fiscal future, we also have a unique opportunity to advance bipartisan energy policy that will create jobs. Putting Americans to work by expanding the nation’s access to clean, affordable hydropower is a solution on which the House of Representatives already found consensus. Indeed, when we passed the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act earlier this year, we acted unanimously — the only example of unanimity on an energy issue in this Congress. That is why we urge the Senate to take up and pass this hydropower legislation before the end of the year…
The Department of Energy reports that more than 12 gigawatts of capacity could be installed at our nation’s existing non-powered dams. That’s the equivalent of 12 nuclear power plants. In fact, only 3 percent of the country’s 80,000 dams currently have generation facilities. Many developers are also exploring smaller applications, including construction in engineered irrigation conduits.
The potential of hydropower to create jobs is also enormous. A 2010 study conducted by the National Hydropower Association revealed that by utilizing currently untapped resources, the U.S. could add approximately 60,000 megawatts of new hydropower by 2025, creating up to 700,000 jobs in the process. It is estimated that for every megawatt of new small hydropower installed at existing dams without hydropower, 5.3 jobs are created (including direct, indirect and induced jobs). With jobs still scarce for too many Americans, we should be looking at every opportunity to put Americans back to work.