About two weeks ago the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2012, or HR 3680, passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill, introduced by Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Diana DeGette (D-CO), aims to streamline approval for small hydro projects. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill– HR 2842, or the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower and Rural Jobs Act, introduced by Scott Tipton (R-CO)– on March 7.
As Caitlin Coleman wrote in the Winter 2012 edition of Headwaters Magazine:
Coloradans have long been interested in small hydropower, or micro-hydro, which is generated by placing turbines in existing irrigation and public conduit systems. But in the past, the sheer cost and time required to obtain necessary permits made it uneconomical to pursue such projects.
Recently there’s been an additional push for these small systems, and the Federal Energy Regulatory and the state of Colorado agreed in 2010 to simplify the permitting process. A bill introduced in Congress in September 2011 could similarly pave the way for small hydropower projects at conduit sites owned by the Bureau of Reclamation if passed. Reclamation believes its Colorado system could generate up to 1,400 Megawatts– enough to serve as many as 1 million homes.
The fate of both bills is yet to be determined. Read more recent small hydro news coverage on Coyote Gulch or find related information here:
- Challenges of small hydro development
- Exploring the viability of low head hydro in Colorado’s existing irrigation infrastructure
- Hydrology risks trip small hydro projects development: ICRA
- Hoover Dams For Lilliput: Does Small Hydroelectric Power Have a Future?