Bipartisan Energy Bill is Positive Step Forward for American Hydropower, Job Creation
The legislation, sponsored by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and the product of bipartisan work on the committee, would make necessary reforms to improve the federal licensing process for hydropower projects. The bill builds on the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 by removing redundancies and unnecessary barriers that can delay projects of all sizes for a decade or longer. Similar hydropower provisions passed in a House energy bill last year.
“Hydropower is already America’s largest source of renewable energy, but its untapped potential remains tremendous. This bill reaffirms America’s commitment to the use of hydropower as an affordable and carbon-free source of baseload power,” said Bob Gallo, President and CEO of Voith Hydro in the United States. “The Senate should be commended for its bipartisan work to pass meaningful legislation promoting hydropower. Final passage will improve the regulatory landscape and bring more clean, renewable, and affordable energy online for American homes and businesses.”
The Energy Policy Modernization Act strengthens research and development and improves efficiencies across virtually all energy sectors. For hydropower, the legislation addresses an acute need to reduce unnecessary licensing delays that can drive up the cost of projects and, ultimately, the price consumers pay for electricity. These delays also serve as a hindrance to additional hydropower development.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) estimates that more than 500 projects, representing 16 gigawatts of installed capacity, will come up for relicensing in the next 15 years. In addition, studies estimate 65 gigawatts of electricity could be added by electrifying the approximately 80,000 non-powered dams across the country.
With respect to hydropower, the Energy Policy Modernization Act:
- Designates FERC the lead agency in licensing with authority to set a schedule for the process.
- Extends hydropower production incentives, as provided by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
- Includes Congressional confirmation that hydro is a renewable resource for the purpose of qualifying for federal programs.
- Extends terms of preliminary permits, and extends by eight years the construction start time for hydropower projects.
Importantly, the Energy Policy Modernization Act keeps in place well-established environmental safeguards and requirements that have helped make hydropower the leading form of clean energy in the country, reducing carbon pollution by 200 million metric tons. Today, approximately 50 percent of America’s renewable energy comes from hydropower.
Hydropower is also a major job producer. The industry supports more than 300,000 direct and indirect jobs in the United States – a number that could easily grow with the right policies in place. In York, Pennsylvania, Voith Hydro employs more than 575 people.
For more information about or to contact your member of Congress regarding hydropower legislation, please visit www.unlockhydro.org.
Voith sets standards in the markets for energy, oil & gas, paper, raw materials, transport & automotive. Founded in 1867, Voith employs more than 20,000* people, generates $5 billion in sales, operates in over 60 countries around the world and is one of the largest family owned companies in Europe.
*Excluding the discontinued group division, Voith Industrial Services.
Director, Corporate & Market Communications, North America