House Energy and Commerce Committee Passes Hydro Bill

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The House Energy and Commerce Committee of the newly elected 113th Congress has passed a bipartisan hydropower bill that aims to improve the regulatory efficiency for certain types of hydropower projects.

The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (H.R. 267), introduced by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA):

  • Exempts conduit hydropower projects under 5 MW from requirements to be licensed by FERC so long as FERC determines that the proposed projects meets the qualifying criteria
  • Allows FERC to extend the term of preliminary permits once for not more than two additional years if FERC finds that the permittee has made significant progress with reasonable diligence
  • Requires FERC TO investigate the feasibility of the issuance of a license for hydropower development at non-powered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects in a 2-year period 
  • Directs the Department of Energy to study the technical feasibilities of existing and new pumped storage projects to support intermittent renewable electric energy generation and provide grid stability

 

The bill makes it easier for responsible hydropower development by easing regulatory process and ensures that a thorough examination be conducted before instituting a shortened two-year regulatory process for obtaining licenses for closed pumped storage projects or projects at existing dams.

The bill had passed the House in 112th Congress while a companion Senate bill had also got through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee towards the end of last Congress.