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U.S. House committee endorses $40 million for hydro R&D

The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill June 25 that includes $40 million in research and development funds for ocean and marine renewable technologies and for conventional hydropower.

The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, for the 2009 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2008, includes $30 million for ocean, marine, and in-stream renewable technologies, and $10 million for conventional hydropower.

The committee's commitment to the Department of Energy's waterpower energy R&D program is $30 million more than the $10 million Congress appropriated for the DOE program for fiscal 2008, ending Sept. 30.

The National Hydropower Association earlier this year called for appropriations totaling $54 million for DOE R&D for FY 2009. (HNN 4/16/08) President Bush's proposed budget for FY 2009 includes only $3 million for the department's program.

The full House is expected to consider the new energy and water spending bill in July. The Senate also is expected to act on energy and water appropriations sometime in July. The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to mark up its version July 10.

NHA praised the Appropriations Committee, saying it showed tremendous leadership by significantly increasing funding for the DOE waterpower R&D program.

�This funding revitalizes the federal program and paves the way for bringing new, clean hydropower technologies on line in the next 20 years,� NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci said.

NHA said the committee action recognizes hydropower as a tool for reaching climate change goals. It said the legislation could spur deployment of new ocean, tidal, and in-stream hydrokinetic technologies.

One hydrokinetic project developer, Hydro Green Energy LLC of Austin, Texas, said the House committee took bold steps toward ensuring the successful growth and maturation of the hydrokinetic power industry in approving the bill.

�The funding approved today will bolster the ability of these new, clean technologies to meet future electricity demand, reduce the impacts of climate change, and improve U.S. energy security, something that is sorely needed,� Hydro Green Chairman Wayne Krouse said. �We encourage the Senate to match this level of commitment, vision and leadership when it acts next month.�

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