Legislation designed to expand hydropower production in the U.S. by improving and streamlining the licensing process for small hydropower projects is now law. President Barack Obama signed into law the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act.
Previously, the Senate unanimously passed the legislation just before it adjourned for August; the House passed each bill with nearly unanimous support earlier in the year.
The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act will improve the permitting process for small and conduit hydropower projects on Bureau of Reclamation facilities. The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act will:
· Increase the small hydro exemption to 10 MW (currently at 5 MW)
· Remove conduit projects under 5 MW from FERC jurisdiction and increase the conduit exemption to 40 MW for all projects
· Provide FERC the ability to extend preliminary permits
· Require FERC to examine a 2-year licensing process for non-powered dams and closed loop pumped storage