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Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the bipartisan support that we've had in the passage of this legislation and urge its support.

H.R. 254 is a win for Federal taxpayers, the environment, and energy users. This bill allows for the development of 50 megawatts of clean, renewable hydropower on the Diamond Fork System in Utah and will generate $600,000 per year for the Federal Government. In Utah, we are one of the fastest-growing areas in the Nation and we need this power.

Under current law, hydropower will not be developed on the Diamond Fork System due to a requirement that energy developers pay $106 million to recover sunk costs that were incurred several years ago.

This $106 million payment requirement renders the hydropower project economically unfeasible. According to the Congressional Budget Office doing an assessment on H.R. 254:

Among the reasons that CBO expects the site will probably not be developed over the next 10 years under current law is a requirement that project sponsors pay the Treasury for a portion of the Federal Government's previous investments in the water project.

H.R. 254 would waive the repayment requirement, making the project economically feasible. In addition, the developer would pay the Federal Government a $600,000 per year fee, unrelated to the sunk cost, once the project is completed.

Massive amounts of energy are generated in the Diamond Fork unit as water flows downhill from Strawberry Reservoir to the Utah and Salt Lake Valleys. Energy dissipators are scattered throughout the pipeline to slow the flow and disperse the energy. Under H.R. 254, the operators would be able to replace those dissipators with turbines, allowing the currently wasted energy to be converted into electricity.

With or without this bill, the Federal Government will not recover the $106 million under any realistic scenario, and developers will not create 50 megawatts of renewable hydropower unless the sunk cost repayment requirement is waived. Additionally, the Federal Government will receive $600,000 per year once the project is completed if the repayment requirement is waived.

This has had a number of hearings within the Natural Resources Committee. We appreciate the bipartisan support and spirit of this moving forward. I would urge passage by my colleagues. We need the energy. This is the best, clean way we can do it.

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