The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 422-0, in favor of a bi-partisan piece of legislation, H.R. 267, would streamline the process for approving certain hydroelectric development and thus allow the use of smaller hydro projects and conduit hydro projects. The legislation also directs Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct a study on pumped storage project opportunities and to study potential hydropower from existing conduits.
There are two things that strike me about this legislation. First, it appears sensible and straight forward. It has a goal of increasing electricity generated from a renewable source. Second, it is a bi-partisan piece of legislation with members like Reps Rogers, Terry, Walden and Latta supporting it from one side of the isle and Reps. DeGette, Dingell, Markey, Matheson and Lujan on the other side. This is exactly the kind of legislating that we should be doing more of where we find areas that we can agree and we then go out and get it done!
The NAM supports the streamlining of the regulatory process for hydroelectric power development through the elimination of redundant or contradictory regulatory steps and avoiding the imposition of conflicting clauses in other legislative initiatives.
The NAM embraces an “all of the above” energy strategy and hydroelectric power certainly fall into that category. Hydropower is a renewable resource that is clean, efficient and is responsible for more of the Nation’s renewable energy supply than any other source of renewable energy. Hydro provides 67% of the domestic renewable energy and 7% of the total electricity generation. As we streamline the regulatory process and build more hydroelectricity capacity there are job opportunities.
A National Hydropower Association’s study estimated that has we bring on more hydro capacity the jobs created will range from 300,000 to 1.4 million jobs by 2025. These jobs are good paying jobs in manufacturing, construction, engineering and operation. With the right federal policies the hydropower capacity could double over the next few years. H.R. 267 looks like a good first step towards making better use of this renewable source of energy. Only thing left is to get H.R. 267 passed in the Senate, easier said than done! However, watching this legislation might tell us a lot about how these two legislative bodies will work together in the 113th Congress.
This country has been blessed with abundant resources and during the last several years we have more clearly understood the importance of utilizing these resources to create jobs. Manufacturing needs energy to produce our products and goods. For the first time in decades we have a bit of an advantage in energy costs. Let’s not waste but embrace this opportunity. This country runs on manufacturing and manufacturing runs on energy!
Chip Yost is assistant vice president for energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.