Senate Holds Hearing on Two New Bills


The Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee is holding a hearing on Thursday, March 31 to hear testimonies on two recent hydropower bills introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (D-Alaska).

John Seebach, the chair of the Coalition and director of hydropower reform initiative at American Rivers, will be testifying at the hearing.  The hearing will focus on S. 629, a bill to improve hydropower, and for other purposes, and S. 630, a bill to promote marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy research and development.

The hydropower bill (S.629), largely looks to provides ways to facilitate development of various types of hydropower.

Specifically, the bill

  1. Directs DOE and Bureau of Reclamation to study development opportunities for pumped storage and conduits
  2. Requires DOE to develop and implement a plan to increase nation’s use of hydropower through R&D
  3. Directs Department of Interior and US Army Corps of Engineers to report to Congress on the implementation of the March 24, 2010 MOU on federal hydropower development
  4. Directs FERC to conduct public workshops to explore and reduce barriers to small hydro projects
  5. Allows conduit projects to be built on federal lands
  6. Directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to explore a potential two-year licensing process for hydropower development at existing non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects, through a pilot process
  7. Creates a competitive grant program to support  efficiency improvements or capacity additions at existing hydropower facilities add generation to non-powered damsThe bill, introduced on March 18, is cosponsored by Senators Begich (D-AK), Bingaman (D-NM), Cantwell (D-WA), Crapo (R-ID), Murray (D-WA), Risch (R-ID), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wyden (D-OR).


The marine and hydrokinetic energy bill (S.630) largely aims to promote research and development for marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies and provides grants to do so.  However, it also contains a provision that would allow funding for new hydropower development.

The hearing will be casted live on the internet at 9:30 am on the Committee’s website at