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U.S. offers $32 million to upgrade conventional hydro projects

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that $32 million in economic stimulus money is being offered to deploy hydropower upgrades at non-federal hydroelectric projects of all sizes.

The Department of Energy called for letters of intent to apply for funding by July 22, 2009, and completed applications by Aug. 20.

DOE said June 30 the announcement is designed to support deployment of turbines and control technologies to increase power generation and environmental stewardship at existing non-federal hydro projects.

Grants of up to $25 million will be offered for upgrades of up to five conventional hydroelectric projects of more than 50 MW. Another $7 million will be offered for upgrades of up to five conventional hydroelectric projects of less than 50 MW.

“There’s no one solution to the energy crisis, but hydropower is clearly part of the solution and represents a major opportunity to create more clean energy jobs,” Chu said. “Investing in our existing hydropower infrastructure will strengthen our economy, reduce pollution, and help us toward energy independence.”

The secretary said another key benefit of hydropower is its ability to store potential hydro energy behind dams to be released when it is most needed.

“Therefore, improving our hydro infrastructure can help to increase the utilization and economic viability of intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar power,” the DOE announcement said.

The agency added that Chu is committed to further developing pumped storage technology to harness those advantages. In February, Chu called for increased investment in pumped-storage hydropower to support an expanded electricity transmission grid that will carry a greater share of intermittent generation from wind and solar sources. (HydroWorld 2/25/09)

Eligibility restricted to hydropower industry

Eligibility for the funding is restricted to industry members or industry-led partnerships within the hydropower industry. The lead industry entity can be a technology developer, project developer, private utility, public municipal or cooperative utility, privately funded research organization, or service company.

A technology developer is defined as a company engaged in the research, development, or deployment of a hydropower technology. A service company is defined as one that provides engineering, design, environmental, or construction services via contracts to hydropower developers, utilities, or power producers.

Cost sharing from industry-led applications must be at least 50 percent of total allowable costs for small hydro demonstration projects and at least 80 percent for large projects.

Letters of intent are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time July 22 by e-mail to ARRA_Water2009@go.doe.gov. Applications must be filed by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Aug. 20 via the FedConnect Internet site, https://www.fedconnect.net.

Complete information on the solicitation, DE-FOA-0000120, may be found at the FedConnect site above, under https://www.fedconnect.net/Fedconnect/PublicPages/PublicSearch/Public_Opportunities.aspx.

Hydro association hails DOE funding

The National Hydropower Association welcomed the DOE announcement and Chu’s statements recognizing the value of hydropower.

“This is a mark of the vision and insight the secretary and other DOE officials are showing when it comes to building our national clean energy mix,” NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci said. “As the secretary noted, by investing in hydropower projects, DOE is helping to create family-supporting jobs and build domestic resources that will power our economic recovery and support the continued flow of affordable, renewable energy to consumers across the country.”


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