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California Energy Commission to fund study on climate change, hydropower

The California Energy Commission has awarded $582,685 for research projects, including one that will look at the effects of climate change on hydropower projects.

Funds for the four research projects come from the commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program, the commission reported.

The Energy Commission approved $299,970 to the University of California at Davis to look at the effects of climate change on hydropower operations and their environmental impact downstream.

More than 300 hydropower projects in California are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), with permits for more than half of them scheduled to expire by 2020.

The UC Davis team will conduct a climate change environmental study for the Yuba River Development Project, which has a capacity to generate 362 MW of electricity. A new license for the Yuba River project is scheduled to be filed by 2014.

The study's main goal is to develop methods and tools that can be used to analyze hydropower projects that are being relicensed. The research will also help support incorporating climate change data in the future licensing of hydropower projects before FERC.

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