Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently introduced legislation that would establish a 30 percent investment tax credit for hydropower environmental and safety improvements.
The tax incentive is available to public power utilities through elective pay.
The bill, S. 2994, the Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity and River Restoration Act of 2023, is cosponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Tom Tillis (R-NC), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
The American Public Power Association said that it strongly supports the Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity and River Restoration Act.
“Hundreds of hydropower and pumped storage licenses must be renewed by 2035. Without the tax incentive support in this bill, these facilities may close, threatening the reliability of the grid and the nation’s ability to achieve emission reduction goals,” APPA said.
“APPA appreciates Senators Cantwell and Murkowski’s attention to this issue, and we are particularly appreciative that this legislation ensures that these incentives are available to all owners of hydropower, including community-owned, not-for-profit public power utilities,” it said.
Cantwell and Murkowski introduced a similar version of the bill in June 2021. The bill introduced on Sept. 28 has been revised to simplify the language, reflect changes in the tax code (including elective pay), and makes a technical correction to ensure that “approved remote dams” in Alaska can qualify for the credit.
The ITC in the Inflation Reduction Act only applied to generation upgrades at hydropower facilities, not for environmental and safety upgrades necessary to maintain existing facilities and complete the relicensing process.
According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, licenses for more than 500 hydropower and pumped storage facilities – representing more than 23 gigawatts of renewable, reliable energy generation – must be renewed by 2035. Without the tax incentive support in the bill, these facilities may close, threatening the reliability of the grid and the nation’s ability to achieve emission reduction goals.
In a news release related to the bill from the offices of Cantwell and Murkowski, officials with the following public power utilities voiced support for the measure: Seattle City Light, Tacoma Power, Chelan County PUD, and Grant County PUD.