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Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers Introduce Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act

March 5, 2021

Bill will advance Washington’s hydropower leadership, support innovation, and streamline development

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) reintroduced the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act, a bill to expand clean, renewable, reliable, and affordable hydropower production in the United States and promote innovation of the next generation of hydropower technology.

"Central Washington is a prime example of how hydroelectric dams and the clean, renewable energy they produce can transform our economy and our way of life," said Rep. Newhouse. "Scientists throughout our region continue to conduct world-class research to improve our dams and responsibly harness the power of our natural resources into a baseload energy resource. Supporting hydropower technology will not only increase the efficiency of power generation, but it will create good-paying jobs and ensure that we can continue to transition into a clean energy future. Passing legislation like this would strongly signal what we know to be true: Hydropower is an essential component of our nation's energy portfolio, and we must continue to promote hydropower development."

"Hydropower is one of America's top renewable energy sources, and it provides clean, reliable, and affordable energy to families in Eastern Washington. In fact, hydropower accounts for roughly 70% of our clean energy across all of Washington State," said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. "In order to address climate change, we must prioritize the continued development of hydropower resources and promote free-market technological innovation. This legislation supports these important goals, and it will help us develop the next-generation of hydro technology needed to increase clean energy production, further decrease environmental impact, and allow America to lead on sustainability."

According to the Department of Energy, the United States has the capacity to grow hydropower production from 101 gigawatts to nearly 150 gigawatts by 2050. This growth would achieve a savings of $209 billion from avoided greenhouse gas emissions. The reforms included in the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act would help the country achieve this goal.

The Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act will:

  • Expand Hydropower Production: The bill affirms the role of hydropower as an essential renewable resource and updates Federal renewable purchase requirements to include hydropower.
  • Modernize Licensing Process: The bill designates the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as the lead agency for the purposes of all Federal authorizations and for complying with any required State or local environmental reviews. The bill also improves coordination among permitting agencies by setting schedules, clarifying responsibilities, and establishing mechanisms to resolve disputes among licensing participants.
  • Promote Next-Generation Hydropower: The bill provides special licensing terms for small hydropower projects that are unlikely to jeopardize threatened or endangered species or critical habitat and expedites licensing for next-generation hydropower projects that utilize technologies that protect, mitigate, or enhance environmental resources.
  • Reduce Market Barriers: The bill requires a report to Congress containing recommendations to reduce barriers to the development of conventional, pumped-storage, conduit, and emerging hydropower technologies. The bill also encourages proper compensation for the full range of services that hydropower provides to the electric grid, including grid reliability and the cost-effective integration of renewables.

Click here for the full text of the bill.