10-11-18 CSHA: Senate Passes Small Hydro Reform Bill White House Approval Expected

CSHA: Senate Passes Small Hydro Reform Bill – White House Approval Expected

Telluride, CO (October 11, 2018) – The Colorado Small Hydro Association (COSHA) praised U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Richard Hudson (R-NC) for passage of their bi-partisan small hydro reform legislation, HR 2786, which was included in the U.S. Senate’s passage yesterday of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA) which passed by a vote of 99-1. The bipartisan bill passed the House on Sept. 13 and it now awaits expected White House approval.

The bill included various provisions promoting hydropower deployment, including language authored by Representatives Hudson and DeGette which enables conduit hydropower projects up to 40 MW to qualify for the expedited licensing process first approved by Congress in 2013 (the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, also authored by Rep. DeGette).  Previously, eligible conduit projects were capped at 5 MW. The bill also reduces the timeframe of the approval process by 2 weeks.

Typical conduit hydropower projects include installation in water treatment plants as well as agricultural canals.

“The inclusion of HR 2786 in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 represents further progress towards unlocking the potential of small hydropower in Colorado”, said Nate Watters, Director of Public Affairs for the Colorado Energy Office. In response to recent federal reforms and favorable Colorado state policy, Colorado has emerged as a national leader in conduit hydropower, with more FERC-approved qualifying conduit projects than any other state. 

In July of 2018, Oak Ridge National Laboratory released a study estimating that Colorado had almost 34 MW of new small, conduit hydropower which could be built within existing water distribution infrastructure,  all of which would be eligible for the expedited federal approval process created by the new bill.

In January of 2018, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a report explaining how conduit hydropower is the most economically feasible type of new hydropower development, taking advantage of existing infrastructure, expedited permitting, and in most states, high-energy value available through net-metering.

“COSHA commends Rep. DeGette and Hudson for their leadership. It’s great that Congress is supporting growth in the development of clean, renewable hydropower built using existing infrastructure,” said Kurt Johnson, COSHA President.  “Expediting small hydro development will lead to development of new, clean energy generation and create new jobs — particularly in rural areas.  We are pleased that this common-sense, bipartisan hydro reform legislation will be signed into law.”

About the Colorado Small Hydro Association (COSHA)

The Colorado Small Hydro Association is dedicated to accelerating development of small hydropower in Colorado.  Additional information about COSHA is available at www.smallhydro.co.