On January 15, 2014, the California Energy Commission (CEC) adopted a report that concluded hydropower from British Columbia (BC) is not eligible as renewable in California (CA) and recommended not revising (i.e. weakening) the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) hydropower regulations to allow eligibility. This effectively closes the door on a terrible idea and long process that began in 2008 for California Hydropower Reform Coalition members and BC river advocates.
The ability to identify renewable energy resources is of paramount importance in reducing fossil fuel dependency and addressing climate change. The Rapid Hydropower Assessment Model (RHAM) uses a Geographic Information System (GIS) to identify hydroelectric power opportunities. Using a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and regional hydrologic data, RHAM calculates the amount of hydroelectric power available on all streams in a study area, screening out sites within parks and environmentally sensitive areas, and estimates project costs. RHAM can also assess the suitability of hydroelectric development in a given area, taking into account economic, environmental and social factors, and can assess storage hydro and clustered developments.n 2007, RHAM was used to assess run-of-river hydroelectric potential for the Province of British Columbia, Canada, an area of approximately 95 million hectares. Over 8,000 potential hydroelectric opportunities were identified. The Consulting Engineers of British Columbia recognized RHAM with an Award of Merit in 2008. RHAM is being applied in other parts of the world to unlock hydroelectric potential, reduce carbon fuel dependence, and help ensure a sustainable energy future for the world.