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Senate committee approves plan for 50 kW micro hydro plant in Alaska's Denali National Park

Denali National Park

A bill allowing for the construction of a 50 kW micro hydropower project in Alaska's Denali National Park was unanimously approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this week, HydroWorld.com has learned.

The bill -- one of several passed as part of a package of public lands bills approved by the committee -- directs the National Park Service to issue a special-use permit to speed the plant's development and provides the authority to exchange 10 acres of land from owner Doyon Ltd. for its construction.

HydroWorld.com reported in January that the project will be built on Eureka Creek to power Katishna Roadhouse, which is a Doyon-owned lodge about 100 miles into the park. Currently, power for the roadhouse is provided by diesel generators.

"Hydropower provides clean, renewable electricity, and we should pursue its use wherever possible," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. "It makes sense to develop a small hydro project within the park to allow Doyon to substantially reduce its reliance on diesel fuel."

Murkowski championed the bill after previously submitting a similar proposal in 2011.

The legislation is just one of several pieces that has received congressional support in recent months.

Earlier this week, Murkowksi -- also the Ranking Member of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee -- reintroduced the Hydropower Improvement Act to the committee.

Meanwhile, the House unanimously approved the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 in February, and the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power has held legislative hearings on the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (H.R.678) and the Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act (H.R. 254) -- each of which would also help American hydroelectric development.

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