Mar 04, 2021 / Energy/Environment

McMorris Rodgers, Newhouse Introduce Bill to Advance Washington Hydropower Leadership, Support Innovation, and Streamline Development

Washington, D.C. (March 4, 2021) – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) today re-introduced the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act to expand clean, renewable, reliable, and affordable hydropower production in America, as well as to promote the innovation of the next generation of hydroelectric technology.

“Hydropower is the largest renewable energy source, and it provides clean, reliable, and affordable energy to families in Eastern Washington. In fact, hydropower accounts for roughly 70% of our clean energy across all of Washington State,” said Rodgers. “In order to address climate change, we must prioritize the continued development of hydropower resources and promote free-market technological innovation. This legislation supports these important goals, and it will help us develop the next-generation hydro technology needed to increase clean energy production, further decrease environmental impact, and allow America to lead on sustainability.”

“Central Washington is a prime example of how hydroelectric dams and the clean, renewable energy they produce can transform our economy and our way of life,” said Newhouse. “Scientists throughout our region continue to conduct world-class research to improve our dams and responsibly harness the power of our natural resources into a baseload energy resource. Supporting hydropower technology will not only increase the efficiency of power generation, but it will create good-paying jobs and ensure that we can continue to transition into a clean energy future. Passing legislation like this would strongly signal what we know to be true: Hydropower is an essential component of our nation’s energy portfolio, and we must continue to promote hydropower development.”

According to the Department of Energy, the United States has the capacity to grow hydropower production from 101 gigawatts to nearly 150 gigawatts by 2050. This growth would achieve a savings of $209 billion from avoided greenhouse gas emissions. The reforms included in the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act would help the country achieve this goal. 

America’s leading power companies are constantly finding ways to reduce carbon emissions, and hydropower must be a huge part of that clean, reliable energy future. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers is a champion for the hydropower industry and this legislation will increase regulatory certainty and encourage more private-sector investment of the nation’s largest baseload renewable energy resource.” Rich Powell, Executive Director, ClearPath Action

“As work continues to decarbonize the power sector, hydropower’s unique benefits are an essential part of any climate solution. CRES strongly supports the unwavering efforts of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to remove barriers needed to harness hydropower’s full potential.  Elimination of these barriers is necessary to ensure a resilient and reliable clean energy grid. The Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act is a critical step forward to create jobs and bolster American’s competitiveness in the energy sector.” Heather Reams, Executive Director, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions  

“Hydropower is an abundant source of clean energy in the Pacific Northwest and across the country. The Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act will ensure that hydropower continues to play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and maintaining American energy independence. The American Conservation Coalition thanks Representative McMorris Rodgers for her leadership on this important issue.” – American Conservation Coalition

“The Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act recognizes hydropower as an essential part of America’s emerging clean energy grid, and we applaud Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) for her leadership. If the nation is serious about achieving deep decarbonization, energy and climate policy must reflect the critical contribution that hydropower provides. This bill puts us on that path by modernizing hydropower’s licensing process and working to ensure that hydropower is properly valued in energy markets for the reliability services it provides to the grid. NHA believes that we can both protect rivers and maintain a thriving hydropower industry. We look forward to our continued work with the Energy and Commerce Committee and other interested parties to advance clean energy legislation that achieves both these goals.” – Malcolm Woolf, President and CEO of the National Hydropower Association

“We appreciate Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ efforts to ensure hydropower is treated fairly as a renewable resource. Her latest legislation is an important step in improving the licensing process. It also recognizes the need to identify and properly compensate hydropower for its role in providing reliable electricity to consumers. We look forward to working with her and others in Congress to optimize hydropower’s contribution to a clean, reliable and affordable American energy system.” – Steve Wright, General Manager Chelan PUD

“Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been a leading advocate in Congress of clean, efficient power generation for many years. Grant PUD applauds her work on the Hydropower Modernization Act. Grant PUD’s annual hydropower generating capacity is over 2100 megawatts, which powers thousands of homes, businesses and farms throughout the Pacific Northwest. Hydropower produces nearly 40% of the U.S. renewable energy capacity and is the largest source of clean, renewable energy in the world, accounting for 54% of the global renewable generation. The Hydropower Modernization Act 2020 will enable and incentivize hydropower producers in the U.S. to unlock significant new hydropower energy potential. This comes at a critical time as many states work toward meeting their carbon-free energy goals, including the Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) here in Washington State.” – Kevin Nordt, Grant PUD General Manager and CEO

“NWPPA has long advocated for several of the primary components contained in the bill. These include recognizing all hydropower as a renewable resource and supporting efforts to modernize the hydropower licensing process. The draft bill also promotes innovation and new technologies… For these reasons, I am pleased to offer NWPPA’s endorsement of this important legislation. We appreciate your ongoing efforts to protect hydropower as an important generation resource and to continue to promote reforms that will strengthen existing hydropower and encourage further innovation.” – Scott Corwin, Executive Director of the Northwest Public Power Association.

The Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act will: 

  • Expand Hydropower Production: The bill affirms the role of hydropower as an essential renewable resource and updates Federal renewable purchase requirements to include hydropower.
  • Modernize Licensing Process: The bill designates the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as the lead agency for the purposes of all Federal authorizations and for complying with any required State or local environmental reviews. The bill also improves coordination among permitting agencies by setting schedules, clarifying responsibilities, and establishing mechanisms to resolve disputes among licensing participants. 
  • Promote Next-Generation Hydropower: The bill provides special licensing terms for small hydropower projects that are unlikely to jeopardize threatened or endangered species or critical habitat and expedites licensing for next-generation hydropower projects that utilize technologies that protect, mitigate, or enhance environmental resources.
  • Reduce Market Barriers: The bill requires a report to Congress containing recommendations to reduce barriers to the development of conventional, pumped-storage, conduit, and emerging hydropower technologies. The bill also encourages proper compensation for the full range of services that hydropower provides to the electric grid, including grid reliability and the cost-effective integration of renewables. 

See the full text of the legislation by clicking here.

# # #