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Two hydroelectric power development bills now in Senate hands

U.S. House of Representatives

A pair of bills designed to improve the conditions for American hydroelectric power development have each passed the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming margins of support, HydroWorld.com has learned.

The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (House Resolution 678) and the Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act (H.R. 254) -- both reviewed by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power in March -- now move forward for Senate consideration.

"[The National Hydropower Association] applauds the House of Representatives for again passing legislation that promotes the further development of the nation's most affordable, reliable and sustainable energy resource: hydropower," NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci said.

H.R. 678 passed the House with a 416-7 vote in favor, while H.R. 254 passed 400-4.

The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act is intended to remove application of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) from conduit hydropower projects with capacities of 5 MW or less.

Meanwhile, the Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to facilitate the development of hydroelectric power on the Diamond Fork System of the Central Utah Project.

Both bills received similar bipartisan support during the previous congressional session, though neither came up for Senate consideration before the 112th Congress was dissolved in January 2012.

A third bill -- the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 -- passed the House with a unanimous 422-0 vote in February.

"NHA looks forward to working with the Senate to secure final passage and the president's signature this year," Ciocci said.

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