Bill spurs development on existing, non-powered dam

(November 6, 2021) Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Malcolm Woolf, President and CEO of the National Hydropower Association on the U.S. passage of the House Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. The bill included investments for the waterpower industry, including $909M for hydropower, pumped storage and marine energy industry.

“As an industry, we applaud passage of the infrastructure bill, as it recognizes that hydropower and marine energy will play a major role in decarbonizing our electricity grid. This law provides a critical down-payment toward preserving and modernizing the existing hydropower fleet that is essential to any climate solution.”

The bill creates a new grant program (Section 247 of Energy Policy Act of 2005) that provides $553 million in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants to support grid resilience, dam safety upgrades, and environmental enhancements at existing hydropower facilities. The measure also bolsters existing hydropower incentive programs including: $125 million to incentivize adding hydropower generation to existing non-powered dams and conduits (Section 242), and $75 million for hydropower efficiency improvements, such as new low-head turbines.

For DOE research and development, the bill provides $70.4 million for marine energy and $36 million for hydropower. The legislation also allots $40 million for the construction of National Marine Energy Centers to test new devices. Additionally, the bill creates a demonstration project to assist the development of new pumped storage hydropower facilities by providing funding for project design, transmission studies, and power market assessments.

“Without question, this record funding will positively impact our industry. While hydropower is America’s first renewable electricity source, currently providing zero-carbon electricity to an estimated 30 million Americans, the fleet is over 50 years old on average. To preserve and enhance the nation’s hydropower and pumped storage fleet, we urge Congress to include the 21 Century Dam Act in the reconciliation package to accelerate the rehabilitation, retrofit, or removal of America’s 90,000 dams. It contains a pivotal 30% Investment Tax Credit for the existing U.S. hydropower fleet to support upgrades, dam safety, and the removal of obsolete dams.

“Hydropower is critical to America’s clean energy infrastructure, and with the right tools we can optimize generation efficiency and output, make environmental enhancements, and bolster dam safety – outcomes that will lead to more clean energy and healthier rivers.”