small hydro

Hydro Bills Head to the President’s Desk

Last week, the United States Senate passed two hydropower bills by unanimous consent. The two bills now await President Obama’s signature.

The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, sponsored by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, aims to expedite the permitting process for conduit hydropower and direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study the feasibility of a streamlined two-year permitting process for closed-loop pumped storage projects.


Development of small versus large hydropower in Norway comparison of environmental impacts

Science Direct

This study has compared the accumulated environmental impacts from 27 small-scale hydropower plants with 3 large hydropower projects. The results show a slight tendency that large hydropower has a lower degree of impacts than many small-scale projects, but lack of precision in the data and weak methodological foundation introduces uncertainty in the results. Taking into account other benefits such as the provision of regulated power, it is reasonable to assume that a few large hydropower projects will produce electricity to a lower environmental cost compared to many small projects, which should be considered when realizing renewable energy policy objectives.



 Tor Haakon Bakken, Håkon Sundt, Audun Ruud & Atle Harby

A Maryland city to build low-head hydro using its raw water line

The City of Frostburg in northwestern Maryland, has obtained an exemption from license to develop hydropower at the city’s municipal raw water line, discharging water from the hydro plant to the raw water reservoir. The City can now start constructing the 75 kilowatt project.

The City’s application to FERC states that the plant will operate automatically only when water is being pumped from the Piney Run Dam and/or Savage Mountain supply wells to the raw water supply reservoir.


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.