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Hydro power industry benefits from fiscal cliff deal

America's hydroelectric industry received a late Christmas present as the U.S. Congress passed a one-year extension of renewable energy tax incentives last night.

The production tax credits, which equate to 1.1 cents/kWh for qualified hydroelectric projects, were extended as part of a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" and also extend to the wind, geothermal, biomass and waste-to-energy industries.

The extension is being applauded by the National Hydropower Association (NHA), which said the legislation will help grow domestic hydroelectric resources.

"There are tens of thousands of megawatts of untapped hydropower at the nation's existing infrastructure," said NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci. "This policy change ensures that more of those projects will be built and provide thousands of more Americans access to affordable, reliable hydropower."

Leaders in renewable energy fields had originally asked Congress to consider extending the production tax credit through 2016, saying it was essential for continued development.

"Developers and investors now have the certainty necessary to pursue projects that might not otherwise have gone forward, creating jobs and expanding hydropower production across the country," Ciocci said. "An informal survey of our members found that nearly two dozen projects representing approximately US$500 million in investments were in limbo based on this change."

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