House passes hydropower bill backed by Association

The House on Nov. 8 voted to pass H.R. 3043, the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act, by a vote of 257-to-166. The bill was authored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and the American Public Power Association was one of several organizations that voiced support for the measure prior to the vote.

In a Nov. 6 letter to House lawmakers, the Association and several other groups urged a vote in favor of the bill.

“Hydropower is America’s single largest provider of renewable electricity, making up almost one half of all generation from renewable resources,” the letter noted.

“Given that hydropower is an important source of domestic, emissions-free, flexible power needed to ensure consistent and reliable electric service, we must look to preserve and protect our existing hydropower system and promote new expansion opportunities,” the Association and the other groups said.

The letter also said that the bill offers a framework that “adds accountability and transparency, eliminates inefficiencies and redundancies, and unlocks innovation and advancements in technology and operations, while protecting environmental values, public participation, and all existing authorities of federal and state decisionmakers in the licensing process.”

In addition, the current regulatory environment is placing hydropower at risk, the groups said. “The licensing process can result in both new and existing projects taking up to ten years or longer to receive their approvals,” they said.

“This not only creates uncertainty for project owners and developers alike, but burdens electricity customers with additional unnecessary costs and only delays important environmental measures that the industry, resource agencies, and the environmental community agreed upon during the licensing process and want to see deployed,” the letter noted.

Along with the Association, other groups signing on to the letter included, among others, the American Council on Renewable Energy, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the Edison Electric Institute, several unions, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the National Hydropower Association.