The Senate Energy and Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held a legislative hearing today on Congressman Scott Tipton's (CO-03) bill to streamline the regulatory process for small hydropower development. H.R. 2842, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, passed the House with bipartisan support in March. It has been endorsed by the Family Farm Alliance, the National Water Resources Association, the Association of California Water Agencies and the American Public Power Association.
"Today's hearing was a major step toward advancing the production of affordable and renewable hydropower in this country, and creating needed rural jobs," Tipton said. "I'm encouraged by the momentum that this common sense clean energy legislation has in the Senate, and we are moving closer to establishing a key piece of an all-of-the above American energy solution."
During the hearing Tipton told the committee:
"Hydropower is the cheapest and cleanest source of electricity available through modern technology. According to the Energy Information Administration, it's the highest source of non-carbon emitting energy in the world and accounts for approximately 70% of the United States' total renewable electricity generation, making it the leading renewable energy source of power. My home state of Colorado has hydropower, but there's still an enormous opportunity for new hydropower development at existing facilities. Canals and pipelines in the State, if developed, can generate as much power as the Glen Canyon Dam -- enough emissions-free power for a million homes.
"Increased conduit hydropower serves a number of purposes: it produces renewable and emissions-free energy that can be used to pump water or sell electricity to the grid; it can generate revenue for an irrigation district to help pay for aging infrastructure costs and facility modernization; and it can create local jobs and generate revenue to the federal government. It's as simple, as this poster demonstrates, as easy as putting in a portable generator into moving canal water.
"What's stopping this low-hanging fruit from being picked? We are -- by allowing the federal regulatory framework to stifle development and entrepreneurial spirit. For this reason, I introduced my bipartisan legislation, The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act."