January 12, 2012

Grant PUD supports federal hydropower bill

Grant County PUD is supporting a federal bill promoting hydropower as America's largest renewable source of energy.

The bill highlights the fact there's tremendous untapped potential for new generation, renewable energy and new job creation, according to information provided to Grant PUD commissioners by Andrew Munro, the district's external affairs director.

The bipartisan bill is titled the "Hydropower Efficiency Act of 2011."
Munro said he's been working with the bill's lead sponsor Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., since last spring on a bill that recognizes hydropower as America's largest renewable energy source.

The bill's backers are looking for a more efficient regulatory structure, making the bill include a two-year licensing process for certain projects like existing non-power dams.

It has been found through various studies there is tremendous potential that exists with dams not generating energy, Munro explained.

The proposed legislation would commission studies on conduit and pumped storage projects.

The bill relates to Grant PUD, as the district passed a resolution two years ago to seek all recognition of hydropower, past, present and future and to consider it renewable in all energy policy.

He said the bill was similar to Arkansas Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's "Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011."

Grant PUD gave testimony in favor of Murkowski's bill, which was approved by the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee last year.

If McMorris Rodgers' bill receives movement in the House, there's a possibility it and Murkowski's bill could be delivered to the president's desk, Munro said.

He said he didn't want to be overly optimistic, but "with Democrats and Republicans supporting this, it does have that potential," Munro said.

Grant PUD commissioner Tom Flint called McMorris Rodgers' bill a "good thing," as it is the "meat and butter" of what the district is about.

Munro said it would be a significant piece of legislation for hydropower and if signed into law sees it as a stepping stone for more legislation to continue.

It would improve opportunities to develop hydropower in the country, he said.


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