Obama signs hydroelectric power bills; H.R. 267 and 678 now federal law

Obama Signature

Both the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act were signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier today.

The bills -- House Resolution 267 and 678, respectively -- will improve conditions for domestic hydropower development by streamlining the federal regulatory process requirements for certain types of hydroelectric projects.

Specifically, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act modifies the Federal Power Act and Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act to promote and facilitate the development of hydroelectric capacity.

H.R.267 increases the small hydro exemption from 5 MW to 10 MW; removes conduit projects under 5 MW from FERC jurisdiction; increases conduit exemptions to 40 MW for all projects; provides FERC the ability to extend preliminary permits; and requires FERC examine a two-year licensing process for non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped-storage projects.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act amends the Reclamation Project Act of 1939 to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to contract for small conduit hydropower development at Reclamation-owned canals, pipelines, aqueducts and other manmade waterways.

Both pieces of legislation received unanimous approval from the U.S. Senate earlier this month after enjoying strong bipartisan support in the House as well.

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