CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on January 15, 2013, by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and referred to the Committee on Energy & Commerce, which held a mark up and reported the bill by voice vote on January 22, 2013.
H.R. 267 expands the licensing exemptions for small hydroelectric power projects and conduits. It also directs FERC to study a streamlined 2-year licensing process for hydropower development at non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects and directs DOE to complete a study of pumped storage and potential hydropower from conduits.
According to the Energy & Commerce Committee, hydropower is the nation’s largest source of renewable energy, providing nearly 8 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. However, of the approximately 80,000 dams in the United States, approximately three percent currently generate hydropower. This represents a tremendous opportunity for our nation’s energy needs. One study reported that the United States could add approximately 60,000 MW of new capacity in the next twelve years, potentially creating up to 700,000 jobs.
Notwithstanding this potential, the licensing process to operate hydropower facilities is time consuming, sometimes taking more than twice as long as the process for other renewable energy sources. This adds significant costs and creates financial disincentives for constructing small facilities. Given that 66% of the hydropower facilities in the United States are defined as small hydropower facilities, the cost of licensing hurts the country’s potential to generate more hydropower. (See Committee Report 113-6.)
H.R. 267 facilitates the development of projects currently stuck in the process as well as new projects in the future.
According to CBO, implementing H.R. 267 would have no significant net impact on the federal budget. H.R. 267 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.