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House Energy Subcommittee unanimously approves two hydro bills

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The full U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee is set to review a pair of hydropower and energy infrastructure modernization bills, following their unanimous approval by the Energy Subcommittee this week.

Passed to the committee were the Promoting Hydropower Development at Existing Non-powered Dams Act (House Resolution 2872) and the Promoting Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower Act (H.R. 2880) -- introduced to the House by Reps. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., and Morgan Griffith, R-Va., respectively.

Buschon's bill would amend the Federal Power Act to encourage hydroelectric development a unpowered infrastructure, while Griffith's would encourage closed-loop pumped storage -- particularly in the coalfields of his home state, Virginia.

H.R. 2880 would also limit the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's authority to enforce licensing conditions "only as necessary to protect public safety," or in instances "that are reasonable, economically feasible, and essential to protect fish and wildlife resources."

Both bills received verbal endorsements from Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., who chairs the subcommittee.

"Hydropower is the nation’s No. 1 renewable, producing electricity with negligible emissions," Upton said, noting hydro accounts for about 7% of all power in the country. "With continued technological advancements and smarter regulations, hydropower generation could expand by an additional 50 percent by 2025. These two bills represent good faith efforts to increase hydropower in the United States."

Hydro legislation strong this Congressional session
The subcommittee's markup of these bills continues a strong interest in hydroelectric power during the current Congressional session.

Perhaps sparked in some part by President Donald Trump's declaration that "hydro is a great, great form of power" in April, a number of policies have already passed through the Energy & Commerce Committee for consideration by the House.

The committee will also soon consider legislation that would extend production tax credits for electricity generated by qualifying conventional hydro and marine hydrokinetic projects, following the introduction of the Renewable Electricity Tax Credit Equalization Act by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., earlier this week.

The Senate has also been busy, with its Subcommittee on Energy & Natural Resources approving A Bill to Amend the Federal Power Act to Modernize Authorizations for Necessary Hydropower Approvals (S.724) and others that would extend the start construction deadline for 10 specific small projects in March.

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