Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) issued the following statement in support of H.R. 678, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 416 -- 7.
"Expanding access to clean, affordable energy is one challenge facing our nation today; however, outdated bureaucracy and unnecessary regulation are stifling opportunity and innovation. By streamlining the regulatory process for small hydropower projects on existing canals and pipelines, this legislation would substantially reduce administrative costs and encourage economic growth in rural America at no cost to taxpayers. Such commonsense legislation has gained broad, bipartisan support and I hope the Senate will soon consider a similar bill."
H.R. 678 would allow the Bureau of Reclamation to utilize its authority to exclude small hydropower projects from additional environmental review when they are placed in canals or water pipelines controlled by the bureau.
Much like legislation Congressman Smith and Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) introduced in the 111th and 112th Congress which addressed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permitting rules, this bill is limited to small projects on existing conduits which have already undergone environmental review. Very often the cost of permitting exceeds the cost of the project itself.
According to a Bureau of Reclamation report from March of 2012 on conduit hydropower development, more than 30 irrigation sites in Nebraska contain more than 5,000 kilowatts of potential hydropower development.