Sen. Murkowski Introduces Bills to Increase Hydropower Generation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at increasing the production of electricity from renewable hydropower and creating badly needed jobs in America’s energy sector. The Hydropower Improvement Act and the Hydropower Renewable Energy Development Act would boost federal support for hydropower projects.

“We have an incredible amount of hydropower potential in my home state of Alaska, and elsewhere in the country,” Murkowski said. “With the proper financing, we could keep a dozen hydro construction companies fully employed in Alaska for a decade or longer.”

The Hydropower Improvement Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA; Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA; and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, aims to increase the capacity of our nation’s hydropower sources to generate clean, renewable electricity by up to 75,000 megawatts.

“Hydropower is one of our greatest untapped resources for generating clean, renewable electricity,” Murkowski said.

The legislation establishes a competitive grants program and directs the Department of Energy to produce and implement a plan for the research, development and demonstration of increased hydropower capacity. The bill also gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) authority to streamline the permitting and review process for hydropower projects, and calls for studies on pumped-storage sites and the potential for development at Bureau of Reclamation facilities.

The Hydropower Renewable Energy Development Act classifies hydroelectric power generation as a “renewable” resource for federal program purposes. This bill provides parity treatment for hydro in the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and expands the types of hydro that can qualify for the PTC and Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBS) program.

“As the Senate turns its attention to energy legislation, I hope we can finally recognize the important contribution hydropower, as a truly renewable resource, can provide to our clean energy goals,” Murkowski said.

Hydropower is the largest source of renewable electricity in the United States, providing 7 percent of the nation’s power. In Alaska, hydro supplies 24 percent of the state’s electricity needs, and there are more than 200 additional sites that look promising for further hydropower development.