Close 

Future uncertain for unfunded U.S. hydro R&D program

The 109th Congress went home in December, abandoning a $4 million proposal to revive the U.S. Department of Energy's hydropower research and development program.

Hydro industry officials held out hope that the new Congress convening in January might revive the R&D program, which included development of a �fish friendly,� more efficient advanced hydropower turbine.

Funding for the program was not included in the Bush administration's proposed budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2006. Instead, the administration called for industry to take the full responsibility for hydro R&D.

In a surprise move in June, the Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed $4 million to revive the zero-funded program. The panel added the money to a House-passed $30.7 billion energy and water development appropriations bill. However, the House bill was sent to the Senate floor for action that never came before adjournment Dec. 9.

Congress went home without passing most appropriations bills for fiscal year 2007. Instead, lawmakers passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through Feb. 15, 2007, postponing a final decision on most appropriations. (HNN 12/12/06)

When the House and Senate are in disagreement over an appropriations item, a stopgap continuing resolution incorporates the lower amount approved by either of the two houses. Since the House-passed version of the energy and water appropriations bill did not include hydro R&D money, despite the Senate's $4 million, the continuing resolution included no money for the program.

The National Hydropower Association said it plans to push for funding of the DOE program in the new Congress. A Washington utility official told a November meeting of Senate energy and environment committee members and staff that federal funding for hydropower R&D is needed and should continue. (HNN 11/21/06)

Additionally, the Electric Power Research Institute is seeking $500,000 in funding from the hydroelectric industry to help complete development, deployment, and testing of the Alden/Concepts NREC advanced design hydropower turbine. EPRI hopes such a demonstration of industry support for the collaborative effort would encourage Congress to re-establish federal funding for hydropower R&D. (HNN 11/16/06)

To access this Article, go to:
http://www.hydroworld.com/content/hydro/en/articles/2006/12/future-uncertain-for-unfunded-us-hydro-randd-program.html