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Ed W.
Republican KY 1

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  • Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013

    by Representative Ed Whitfield

    Posted on 2013-02-12

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    WHITFIELD. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 267) to improve hydropower, and for other purposes.



    The Clerk read the title of the bill.

    The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 267 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013''.

    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act is as follows: Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

    Sec. 2. Findings.

    Sec. 3. Promoting small hydroelectric power projects.

    Sec. 4. Promoting conduit hydropower projects.

    Sec. 5. FERC authority to extend preliminary permit periods.

    Sec. 6. Promoting hydropower development at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects.

    Sec. 7. DOE study of pumped storage and potential hydropower from conduits.

    SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds that-- (1) the hydropower industry currently employs approximately 300,000 workers across the United States; (2) hydropower is the largest source of clean, renewable electricity in the United States; (3) as of the date of enactment of this Act, hydropower resources, including pumped storage facilities, provide-- (A) nearly 7 percent of the electricity generated in the United States; and (B) approximately 100,000 megawatts of electric capacity in the United States; (4) only 3 percent of the 80,000 dams in the United States generate electricity, so there is substantial potential for adding hydropower generation to nonpowered dams; and (5) according to one study, by utilizing currently untapped resources, the United States could add approximately 60,000 megawatts of new hydropower capacity by 2025, which could create 700,000 new jobs over the next 13 years.

    SEC. 3. PROMOTING SMALL HYDROELECTRIC POWER PROJECTS.

    Subsection (d) of section 405 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2705) is amended by striking ``5,000'' and inserting ``10,000''.

    SEC. 4. PROMOTING CONDUIT HYDROPOWER PROJECTS.

    (a) Applicability of, and Exemption From, Licensing Requirements.--Section 30 of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 823a) is amended-- (1) by striking subsections (a) and (b) and inserting the following: ``(a)(1) A qualifying conduit hydropower facility shall not be required to be licensed under this part.

    ``(2)(A) Any person, State, or municipality proposing to construct a qualifying conduit hydropower facility shall file with the Commission a notice of intent to construct such facility. The notice shall include sufficient information to demonstrate that the facility meets the qualifying criteria.

    ``(B) Not later than 15 days after receipt of a notice of intent filed under subparagraph (A), the Commission shall-- ``(i) make an initial determination as to whether the facility meets the qualifying criteria; and ``(ii) if the Commission makes an initial determination, pursuant to clause (i), that the facility meets the qualifying criteria, publish public notice of the notice of intent filed under subparagraph (A).

    ``(C) If, not later than 45 days after the date of publication of the public notice described in subparagraph (B)(ii)-- ``(i) an entity contests whether the facility meets the qualifying criteria, the Commission shall promptly issue a written determination as to whether the facility meets such criteria; or ``(ii) no entity contests whether the facility meets the qualifying criteria, the facility shall be deemed to meet such criteria.

    ``(3) For purposes of this section: ``(A) The term `conduit' means any tunnel, canal, pipeline, aqueduct, flume, ditch, or similar manmade water conveyance that is operated for the distribution of water for agricultural, municipal, or industrial consumption and not primarily for the generation of electricity.

    ``(B) The term `qualifying conduit hydropower facility' means a facility (not including any dam or other impoundment) that is determined or deemed under paragraph (2)(C) to meet the qualifying criteria.

    ``(C) The term `qualifying criteria' means, with respect to a facility-- ``(i) the facility is constructed, operated, or maintained for the generation of electric power and uses for such generation only the hydroelectric potential of a non- federally owned conduit; ``(ii) the facility has an installed capacity that does not exceed 5 megawatts; and ``(iii) on or before the date of enactment of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, the facility is not licensed under, or exempted from the license requirements contained in, this part.

    ``(b) Subject to subsection (c), the Commission may grant an exemption in whole or in part from the requirements of this part, including any license requirements contained in this part, to any facility (not including any dam or other impoundment) constructed, operated, or maintained for the generation of electric power which the Commission determines, by rule or order-- ``(1) utilizes for such generation only the hydroelectric potential of a conduit; and ``(2) has an installed capacity that does not exceed 40 megawatts.''; (2) in subsection (c), by striking ``subsection (a)'' and inserting ``subsection (b)''; and (3) in subsection (d), by striking ``subsection (a)'' and inserting ``subsection (b)''.

    (b) Conforming Amendment.--Subsection (d) of section 405 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2705), as amended, is further amended by striking ``subsection (a) of such section 30'' and inserting ``subsection (b) of such section 30''.

    SEC. 5. FERC AUTHORITY TO EXTEND PRELIMINARY PERMIT PERIODS.

    Section 5 of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 798) is amended-- (1) by designating the first, second, and third sentences as subsections (a), (c), and (d), respectively; and (2) by inserting after subsection (a) (as so designated) the following: ``(b) The Commission may extend the period of a preliminary permit once for not more than 2 additional years beyond the 3 years permitted by subsection (a) if the Commission finds that the permittee has carried out activities under such permit in good faith and with reasonable diligence.''.

    SEC. 6. PROMOTING HYDROPOWER DEVELOPMENT AT NONPOWERED DAMS AND CLOSED LOOP PUMPED STORAGE PROJECTS.

    (a) In General.--To improve the regulatory process and reduce delays and costs for hydropower development at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (referred to in this section as the ``Commission'') shall investigate the feasibility of the issuance of a license for hydropower development at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects in a 2-year period (referred to in this section as a ``2-year process''). Such a 2-year process shall include any prefiling licensing process of the Commission.

    (b) Workshops and Pilots.--The Commission shall-- (1) not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, hold an initial workshop to solicit public comment and recommendations on how to implement a 2-year process; (2) develop criteria for identifying projects featuring hydropower development at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects that may be appropriate for licensing within a 2-year process; (3) not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, develop and implement pilot projects to test a 2- year process, if practicable; and (4) not later than 3 years after the date of implementation of the final pilot project testing a 2-year process, hold a final workshop to solicit public comment on the effectiveness of each tested 2-year process.

    (c) Memorandum of Understanding.--The Commission shall, to the extent practicable, enter into a memorandum of understanding with any applicable Federal or State agency to implement a pilot project described in subsection (b).

    [[Page H440]] (d) Reports.-- (1) Pilot projects not implemented.--If the Commission determines that no pilot project described in subsection (b) is practicable because no 2-year process is practicable, not later than 240 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a report that-- (A) describes the public comments received as part of the initial workshop held under subsection (b)(1); and (B) identifies the process, legal, environmental, economic, and other issues that justify the determination of the Commission that no 2-year process is practicable, with recommendations on how Congress may address or remedy the identified issues.

    (2) Pilot projects implemented.--If the Commission develops and implements pilot projects involving a 2-year process, not later than 60 days after the date of completion of the final workshop held under subsection (b)(4), the Commission shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a report that-- (A) describes the outcomes of the pilot projects; (B) describes the public comments from the final workshop on the effectiveness of each tested 2-year process; and (C)(i) outlines how the Commission will adopt policies under existing law (including regulations) that result in a 2-year process for appropriate projects; (ii) outlines how the Commission will issue new regulations to adopt a 2-year process for appropriate projects; or (iii) identifies the process, legal, environmental, economic, and other issues that justify a determination of the Commission that no 2-year process is practicable, with recommendations on how Congress may address or remedy the identified issues.

    SEC. 7. DOE STUDY OF PUMPED STORAGE AND POTENTIAL HYDROPOWER FROM CONDUITS.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary of Energy shall conduct a study-- (1)(A) of the technical flexibility that existing pumped storage facilities can provide to support intermittent renewable electric energy generation, including the potential for such existing facilities to be upgraded or retrofitted with advanced commercially available technology; and (B) of the technical potential of existing pumped storage facilities and new advanced pumped storage facilities, to provide grid reliability benefits; and (2)(A) to identify the range of opportunities for hydropower that may be obtained from conduits (as defined by the Secretary) in the United States; and (B) through case studies, to assess amounts of potential energy generation from such conduit hydropower projects.

    (b) Report.--Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Energy shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a report that describes the results of the study conducted under subsection (a), including any recommendations.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Whitfield) and the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. Ben Ray Lujan) each will control 20 minutes.

    The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Kentucky.

    General Leave Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on H.R. 267.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Kentucky? There was no objection.

    Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    H.R. 267 is the result of the bipartisan effort of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Congresswoman Diana DeGette, both members of the Energy and Commerce Committee. They've worked long and hard on this legislation. It has great promise for increased hydropower development across the Nation, and we're delighted to bring it to the floor today.

    At this time, I would like to yield 2 minutes to the gentlelady from Washington (Mrs. McMorris Rodgers).

    Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, which I introduced with my good friend from Colorado, Representative Diana DeGette.

    {time} 1420 As we continue to advance an all-of-the-above energy strategy, we must remember to include our Nation's largest, cleanest, most affordable, reliable, and renewable energy source--hydropower.

    Sustainable hydropower is a part of a strong economy, and to see the potential and the benefits of hydropower, all you have to do is look at my home State of Washington State. Over 75 percent of our electricity comes from hydropower. It's clean and it's renewable.

    The Columbia and Snake River dams in eastern and central Washington transformed our economy. What was once a dry, barren desert with sagebrush is one of the most productive agriculture regions in the world. And because of low-cost hydropower, we've attracted high-tech companies like Google and Yahoo to relocate their servers in eastern Washington. We've also brought manufacturing facilities like the BMW plant, which is in Moses Lake.

    However, the regulatory process for hydropower, particularly for these smaller, controversial projects, is broken. Too often the cost of complying exceeds the cost of the equipment itself. We need to make this process easier and less costly, and that's what this legislation will do. Think of it as the 1040-EZ for hydro permitting. H.R. 267 streamlines the hydropower permitting process, reducing the burdens impeding development and getting low-cost power to communities faster.

    Mr. Speaker, most agree with the goal of energy independence and continuing the energy revolution. As part of an all-of-the-above strategy, we need to domestically produce more oil, coal, natural gas, and renewable energies like hydropower.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

    Mr. WHITFIELD. I yield the gentlewoman an additional 3 minutes.

    Mrs. McMORRIS RODGERS. There was a recent study by the National Hydropower Association that showed we could double hydropower production in this country without building a new dam, simply by investing in new technologies, new turbines. Actually, only 3 percent of the dams in the country produce electricity.

    We could also, in this process, create 700,000 jobs. Unleashing American ingenuity to increase hydropower production will lower energy costs and help create thousands of jobs.

    Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to support American energy and support H.R. 267.

    Mr. BEN RAY LUJAN of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    H.R. 267 is a bipartisan bill that will facilitate the development of new, environmentally responsible hydropower projects. The bill was introduced by Mrs. McMorris Rodgers and Ms. Diana DeGette. It was developed through a cooperative process that included extensive discussions with interested stakeholders and agencies.

    This process was produced in a balanced, bipartisan way, and it is bipartisan legislation. The legislation is supported by both hydropower developers and environmentalists. It was unanimously reported out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and last Congress, the House passed an identical bill by a vote of 382-0.

    I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

    Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

    Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

    Mr. BEN RAY LUJAN of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, I'd ask if the majority has any additional speakers.

    Mr. WHITFIELD. We have no additional speakers.

    Mr. BEN RAY LUJAN of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

    Mr. WHITFIELD. I just want to say, in conclusion, how much we enjoyed working with both sides of the aisle on this issue. I want to thank Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Diana DeGette.

    The Nation will benefit from this legislation because, as has already been said, hydropower is a clean, efficient, abundant, and affordable source of energy. And I urge people to support this legislation.

    I yield back the balance of my time.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Whitfield) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 267.

    The question was taken.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.

    [[Page H441]] Mr. WHITFIELD. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

    The yeas and nays were ordered.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed.

    ____________________

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