Bill to Streamline Installation of Small Hydropower Projects Passes House

The House unanimously approved a bipartisan bill, HR 5892, to streamline the permitting process for small-scale hydropower projects on July 9. The ACWA-supported bill would exempt in-conduit hydropower projects less than 5 MW from FERC jurisdiction. The bill would allow the installation of hydropower projects in canals, irrigation channels, and pipelines to proceed more smoothly.

Currently, small in-conduit hydroelectric projects on non-federal land that generate less than 1.5 MW of power are exempt from FERC jurisdiction. However, ACWA member agencies trying to obtain the exemption report it takes over six months and costs upwards of $50,000. HR 5892 is designed to eliminate this burden and promote the installation of small-scale hydropower facilities.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved similar legislation, S 629, in May 2011. However, the bill has yet to be voted on by the full Senate.