On Tuesday, December 3, 2013, the House will consider H.R. 1963, the Bureau of Reclamation Conduit Hydropower Development Equity and Jobs Act, as Amended, under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on May 14, 2013 by Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported by unanimous consent.
H.R. 1963 authorizes the Bureau of Reclamation to enter into leases with nonfederal entities to develop hydropower at 11 water project facilities currently owned by the federal government.
Specifically, this legislation amends the Water Conservation and Utilization Act (WCUA) to: (1) strike the requirement that the federal government retains all revenues; (2) authorize the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation, to enter into leases of power privileges for electric power generation in connection with any project constructed under the Act; (3) strengthen the Bureau of Reclamation’s existing NEPA Categorical Exclusion process for small conduit hydropower development; (4) establish the Bureau as the sole permitting authority for hydropower developments covered by the bill; (5) offer a right of first refusal for small hydropower development to facility operators; (6) ensure that the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) do not have to purchase or market any of the power produced by the facilities; and (7) ensure that water supply remains the primary purpose of the facilities, and that hydropower development would serve an ancillary purpose.
“Established in 1902, the Bureau of Reclamation’s (Reclamation) primary mission is to provide a reliable source of water and power for irrigated agriculture and rural and urban communities." The Bureau of Reclamation currently owns approximately “47,336 miles of canals, laterals, drains, pipelines, and tunnels.” In March, 2012, the Bureau updated a report mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to study its conduits for potential hydropower development. This report found 373 sites with the potential for development.
In April, 2013, House passed H.R. 678 , the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, to promote conduit hydropower development at Bureau of Reclamation facilities. H.R. 678 applied to hundreds of facilities covered under the authorities of the Reclamation Project Act of 1939. This legislation applies to the remaining facilities, which are governed under the authorities of the Water Conservation and Utilization Act of 1939. H.R. 1963 removes the statutory barriers to promote non-federal investment by authoring the Bureau of Reclamation to contract with non-federal entities to develop hydropower at these remaining 11 facilities.
 See Report 113-249, p. 3.
 Bureau of Reclamation, “Site Inventory and Hydropower Energy Assessment of Reclamation Owned Conduits (March, 2012), p. 3. http://www.usbr.gov/power/CanalReport/FinalReportMarch2012.pdf
 Bureau of Reclamation, “Site Inventory and Hydropower Energy Assessment of Reclamation Owned Conduits (March, 2012), p. 7. http://www.usbr.gov/power/CanalReport/FinalReportMarch2012.pdf
The CBO estimates that enacting this legislation would increase federal receipts derived from lease payments authorized under the bill. “However, because the receipts would be available to the bureau to be spent without further appropriation on rehabilitation work at the facility where they were collected, we expect H.R. 1963 would have a negligible net impact on the budget.”
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.