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UPDATE - Obama acknowledges hydro in visit to Voith Siemens plant

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama visited Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation's manufacturing plant Sept. 4 in West Manchester Township, Pa., touring the facility and adding hydropower to the list of renewables he said the nation needs to promote.

Following a 40-minute plant tour, the Illinois senator met with Voith Siemens employees and local campaign volunteers gathered in the company's parking lot for a 40-minute townhall-style meeting, surrounded by giant Voith Siemens turbines on trailers.

The York Daily Record reported one longtime Voith employee, Bob Silknitter, told Obama he finds it frustrating that virtually all talk about clean renewable energy focuses on solar and wind power, rather than hydroelectric power. Obama handed the employee his business card and invited him to call if Obama fails to mention hydropower when speaking on the topic, the Record said.

Obama told workers the United States cannot "drill its way out" of an energy shortage.

"And that's where this facility comes in," he said. "We've got to learn to harness clean, renewable energy. And that means solar, that means wind, that means biodiesel, and that means hydro."

President Mark Garner of Voith Siemens Hydro's U.S. operating unit, led the plant tour. He stressed to Obama that hydropower must be included in a $150 billion renewable energy investment package the Democratic nominee has said he would invest in renewable sources of energy over the next decade.

Obama said hydropower would be included in those investments. Garner said the candidate also asked what would be the most important thing he could do to help the industry.

�I said make hydro part of the discussion around any renewables,� Garner said. �He assured me that he thought that was appropriate and he would do that.�

Obama's New Energy for America plan calls for renewable sources of energy to provide 10 percent of U.S. electricity by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.

During his visit, Obama also suggested a survey of sites where it would be possible to add hydropower or to modernize turbines.

Last year the Electric Power Research Institute released a study finding at least 23,000 MW of additional hydropower capacity could be brought on line by 2025: 10,000 MW from conventional hydro; 3,000 MW from new hydrokinetic technologies; and 10,000 MW from ocean wave energy devices. (HNN 3/19/07) A Bureau of Reclamation and Corps of Engineers study, also released last year, estimated 1,230 MW of new hydropower capacity could be developed at 64 existing federal water resources sites, some of which already have hydro capacity. The agencies also found refurbishment of some federal hydro plants could add another 1,283 MW. (HNN 7/16/07)

Headquartered in York, Voith Siemens Hydro's North American operations are home to one of the world's largest dedicated hydro turbine equipment manufacturing facilities. In June, the company received a $300 million contract to equip three hydroelectric projects totaling 191 MW being built at Corps of Engineers dams on the Ohio River. (HNN 6/18/08)

Voith Siemens Hydro is a member of the Voith group of companies, headquartered in Heidenheim, Germany.
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