McMorris Rodgers Bill to Unleash Hydropower Inches Closer to Becoming Law

Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act Advances to Full Energy and Commerce Committee

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security advanced Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ (WA-05) Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act (H.R. 4045). This legislation would expand clean, renewable, reliable, and affordable hydropower production, as well as promote American innovation and leadership in the next generation of hydroelectric technology.

The bill will now move to the full House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.

During today’s markup, Cathy delivered the following remarks in support of her legislation as prepared for delivery.

THE VALUE OF HYDROPOWER

“Hydropower is one of America’s most valuable energy sources. It accounts for over 6% of our nation’s electricity generation and nearly 40% of the nation’s renewable generation. 

“It’s reliable, affordable, and can help us reduce emissions. Not to mention, the baseload power produced by our dams can be dispatched at a moment’s notice, helping businesses keep their lights on and families heat their homes.

This is especially important in Eastern Washington as we approach the colder winter months. Without hydropower, our communities would be at serious risk of life-threatening blackouts.

Despite the many benefits of hydropower, only 3 percent of dams in our country actually produce electricity today. By leveraging this untapped potential for more hydropower energy, we could double hydropower production in the United States without building a single new dam!

Eastern Washington is the perfect example of what’s possible when we unleash the potential of hydropower in America. I think about Long Lake Dam in my district, which was built in 1915. 

“For more than a century, this dam has operated with the potential to generate 80 megawatts of clean, reliable, and renewable energy each day. It’s played a critical role in helping our local utility companies deliver power to our region and give us our competitive edge.

“Unfortunately, not all dams are so lucky.

BURDENSOME REGULATIONS

“Right now, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates non-federal hydropower projects, which include about 2,500 dams and account for about a half of the hydropower generation in the country.

The licensing process for these critical energy facilities is burdensome, taking nearly a decade to license and re-license them. That means less energy, fewer options, and higher costs. 

H.R. 4045 modernizes this burdensome and outdated licensing process standing in the way of next generation hydrotechnology. By removing barriers and rapidly expanding hydropower development, it will help strengthen our energy grid, drive down energy costs, and secure a cleaner energy future.

“This bill also enhances coordination among dozens of agencies by authorizing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to set schedules, clarify responsibilities, and resolve disputes.

“H.R. 4045 will play a pivotal role bringing more hydropower facilities online, while preserving and expanding our already powerful hydropower fleet. 

It is a real, free-market climate solution that will ensure America continues to lead the way on clean, renewable, affordable, and reliable energy for generations to come.

BIPARTISAN SOLUTIONS

“Emissions-free hydropower is a critical part of our energy expansion in America. As we consider that fact, I believe Eastern Washington’s hydropower model is worth expanding, and it starts right here with our committee.

We have the opportunity to work across the aisle to implement bipartisan reform, cut the red tape, and remove regulatory barriers to innovation that will help unleash the potential of hydropower.

That’s the American way.

“I’ve heard from several of my colleagues across the aisle who have expressed a desire to work together on a bipartisan solution. I’m encouraged by the progress we are making today with a bipartisan amendment to try and find a path forward on achieving this shared goal. 

“I urge you to support the H.R. 4045, Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act so we can achieve real, bipartisan licensing reform that ensures the viability of hydropower far into the future.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about H.R. 4045.

CLICK HERE for a one pager on the bill.

CLICK HERE to read the full bill text.

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