From The Telluride Daily Planet (Collin McRann):
The bill is called The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, and it is getting close to being put to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill was reintroduced to the House on Jan. 15, and then put to committee review. By Jan. 22, the House Energy and Commerce Committee granted approval for the bill, which means it’s on track to be considered by the House. Last year the House unanimously passed a bill with identical wording, but it failed to pass the Senate.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) co-sponsored the bill, and one of its major supporters is the Colorado Small Hydro Association.
“We’re expecting it to move through the House fairly quickly,” said Ophir’s Kurt Johnson, who is president of the Colorado Small Hydro Association. “There haven’t been any substance disagreements with the bill. The question is, what’s the broader context? But if it gets through the House it would then get referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.”
Johnson said he hopes the bill is able to make it through the House as quickly as it did last year due to its noncontroversial nature. He said ideally, the bill would be before the Senate by this spring or early summer.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton said in a press release that he wants senators to take notice of actions in the House and quickly pass the small hydro bill, along with four other bills his committee approved.
“There could be a number of things that could happen in the Senate,” Johnson said. “It could go through different hearings and end up in some broader energy package, but it’s hard to say — it’s still too soon.”
The bill’s main focus is to simplify the permitting of small hydroelectric power projects, mainly those generating fewer than than 5-megawatts of electricity. The bill states that only about 3 percent of the nation’s 80,000 dams currently generate hydropower. With Colorado’s many small streams and rivers, the Small Hydro Association estimates that around 200-megawatts of new, potential hydroelectric development is possible in the state.