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Second federal RPS proposal also includes hydroelectric power

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Legislation introduced to the Senate this past week would include hydroelectric power as part of a proposed national renewable electricity standard.

The bill -- cosponsored by senators Mark Udall, D-Colo., Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Ben Cardin, D-MD. -- is similar to another federal renewable portfolio standard also introduced to Congress this past week, though it differs in how it defines eligible hydropower.

The Udall and Cardin bill, called the Renewable Electricity Standard Act of 2013 (or Senate Bill 1595), seeks to increase America's cumulative renewable percentage from 6% in 2014 to 25% by 2025, using conventional hydro, ocean, tidal, biomass, solar, wind, geothermal and landfill gas as energy sources.

S.B. 1595 adds a caveat for hydropower, however, by excluding many projects already in existence from that percentage.

Per text from the bill, the "base quantity of electricity" sold by an electric supplier does not include "electric energy that is not incremental hydropower generated by a hydroelectric facility".

The bill later defines "incremental hydropower" as "additional generation that is achieved from increased efficiency or additions of capacity made on or after A) the date of enactment of [S.B. 595's] section; or B) the effective date of an existing applicable state renewable portfolio standard program at a hydroelectric facility that was placed in service before that date".

Similar to renewable portfolio standard (RPS) programs already being enacted in a number of states, S.B. 1595's intent seems to be the promotion of new project development in areas where existing projects would more than satisfy the proposed 25% mark.

S.B. 1595 also said incremental hydropower will be eligible for federal renewable energy credits based on increases in average generation resulting from efficiency improvements or capacity additions.

The bill differs most significantly from the American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act (S.B. 1627) for hydro power in that the latter -- proposed by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. -- uses Jan. 1, 2001, as the cutoff date for project eligibility.

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