SubEnergy Examines Hydropower and Ways to Modernize Energy Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today held a hearing examining the state of the nation’s dams and hydropower resources. The subcommittee reviewed the federal licensing process and recommendations to improve coordination between government agencies, promote new infrastructure, and ensure consumers have access to reliable and affordable electricity generated from hydropower.

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Mr. Chuck Hookham, P.E. testifying on behalf of the American Society of Civil Engineers, discussed ways in which improvements can be made, commenting, “Legislation that purely focuses on improving hydropower licensing/regulation and adds certainty to permit/approval timelines is needed; current permit/licensing challenges inhibit inclusion of hydroelectric projects in integrated resource planning.”

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Ms. Ramya Swaminathan, CEO of Rye Development, echoed Mr. Hookham’s testimony, stating, “The length, redundancy, and opacity of the federal permitting processes that govern the timeline for new hydropower on existing dams is a significant barrier to additional capital being invested into this sector. … Duplication and opacity in the overall federal process, both at FERC and USACE, must be minimized with regulatory risks throughout the overall federal permitting process being sequentially taken ‘off the table.’”

“The potential increase in hydropower production would boost job growth, increase economic investment, facilitate the use of wind and other intermittent renewables, and avoid harmful emissions from the electric power sector,” stated full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “As the subcommittee continues its efforts to modernize our nation’s infrastructure through technology-neutral improvement and expansion, we must bring greater transparency, efficiency and accountability to the regulatory processes affecting hydropower.”

“The regulatory environment for hydropower has become increasingly challenging. Licensing new hydropower facilities and relicensing existing facilities requires extensive consultation with multiple federal, state, and local government entities,” concluded Chairman Upton. “With sound policy and smarter regulations, hydropower could have a very bright future. Updating and modernizing hydropower infrastructure will incentivize economic development, create jobs, and strengthen energy security.”