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E&C Republicans Lead to Grow Hydropower Production and Innovation


07.29.22

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans are leading an effort to expand clean and affordable hydropower around the United States. Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN), and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) are examining potential reforms and how to improve hydropower provisions in the enacted America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA). The members ask in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) what has worked and where improvements can be made, to increase hydropower production and innovation.

LETTER HIGHLIGHT: “Given the strong bipartisan support for AWIA, and the well-established need to modernize the hydropower licensing process, we are concerned that some of the statutory requirements are not working as intended.”

[…]

“As you know, there is tremendous opportunity to expand hydropower production. Only about 3 percent of the dams in the United States, approximately 2,000 dams, produce electricity today. A recent report by the Department of Energy (DOE) found that U.S. hydropower production could grow by almost 50 percent from current levels by 2050 from a combination of upgrading existing hydropower facilities, adding generation capacity to existing non-powered dams and canals, and developing new hydropower facilities.”

The members ask FERC several questions on the AWIA and its implementation:

  • Please describe whether or not the amendments to the FPA [Federal Power Act] relating to extending preliminary permit terms and start of construction deadlines for new construction projects have been implemented successfully.
  • On April 18, 2019, FERC issued a final rule establishing an expedited 2-year licensing timeline for certain non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects to meet the requirements of AWIA.
    • Have any applicants successfully completed the expedited licensing process?
    • How did FERC establish the qualifying criteria for the purposes of the expedited licensing process?
    • Has FERC evaluated the success of the program to determine whether it is meeting the objectives established by Congress?
    • Has FERC considered whether the qualifying criteria should be modified? If not, why not?
  • Please describe whether or not the amendments to the FPA relating to conduit hydropower facilities have been implemented successfully.
    • How many conduit facilities have qualified for the exemption since Congress lifted the cap from 5 MW to 40 MW? Please provide a list of those facilities.
  • Please describe whether or not the amendments to the FPA relating to FERC’s licensing terms and promoting project-related investments have been implemented successfully.
    • How many facilities have applied for project-related investment determinations pursuant to AWIA?
    • How many facilities have received a determination that a project-related investment is eligible under AWIA?

CLICK HERE to read the letter to FERC Chairman Richard Glick.

Press Release