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House panel recommends $22 million for hydro R&D

The House Appropriations Committee recommended June 6 that Congress allocate $22 million for the Department of Energy's hydropower research and development program. The recommendation follows a year in which no appropriations were made for the program.

President Bush's budget proposal for the 2008 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, 2007, includes no money for hydropower activities in the Energy Department for a second consecutive year. (HNN 2/7/07) For fiscal year 2006, Congress appropriated $495,000 to complete the final closeout of the hydropower program.

The $22 million included in the 2008 Energy and Water Appropriations bill allows for research and development of hydropower and its emerging technologies, including ocean, tidal, and instream hydrokinetic systems.

The committee recommended the appropriations for hydro be directed to several areas: $7 million to the Energy Department's advanced turbine program; $6 million to research, development, and deployment of new technologies; $5 million to hydropower resource assessments at existing dams; and $4 million to environmental studies for conventional and new hydropower technologies.

The National Hydropower Association called the budget recommendation the Appropriation Committee's largest for hydro R&D in decades. NHA commended the committee for bringing funding for hydro R&D back into the budget, and it hailed the decision as a broad victory for industry and the nation.

�This is not only a significant victory for the hydropower industry, but also for the nation and its efforts to use more clean, renewable energy,� NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci said. �Federal investment in hydropower research has led to remarkable innovations within the industry. This funding will continue to help us find more efficient ways to create power from a vast resource.�

The committee's bill also includes a recommendation that $95 million be appropriated to the Army Corps of Engineers to repair and update federal hydropower projects to increase energy production.

NHA said it would work with the committee's members to ensure funding remains intact as the budget process continues. The appropriations bill still faces passage by the full House, and the Senate also must approve appropriations.

Senate panel hears need to support hydro development

On the other side of the Capitol, a hydropower industry representative told a Senate subcommittee that DOE's hydropower research and development program should be reinstated and expanded to include initiatives for both conventional hydro and for ocean, tidal, and hydrokinetic technologies.

�Advanced turbine designs for conventional hydropower have shown promising first round results,� Grant County Public Utility District General Manager Tim Culbertson said.

Culbertson testified June 6 before the Senate Energy Committee's Subcommittee on Water and Power on behalf of NHA.

�Grant County PUD utilized the DOE R&D program as a private-public partnership in developing the advanced turbine now being deployed at Wanapum Dam,� he said. (HNN 11/21/06) �Seeing the program to completion and supporting the necessary studies for the development of new technologies are crucial if these advancements are to succeed and gain acceptance.�

The subcommittee considered the effects of climate change on water supply and availability. Culbertson also testified federal support would enable the hydropower industry to responsibly develop growth potential and significantly contribute to solving climate change.

�Federal investment in new advanced hydropower technologies �- through economic incentives and research and development funding -� is critical to assist the industry in its planning and preparation for the impacts climate change will impose on the resource,� Culbertson said.

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