Attending the National Hydropower Association conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, I had many opportunities to reflect on the progress our industry has made recently to promote the benefits that hydropower provides our country. Today, it does not come as a surprise when we talk about hydropower as America's largest source of clean, renewable electricity. And more and more, policymakers and energy stakeholders are aware of hydropower's incredible growth potential, as well as our industry's commitment to doubling its contribution to our nation's energy supply.
That said, we still have work to do. The new Congress is full of members new to the energy debate, a dynamic that represents both a challenge and an opportunity. While there is a need to educate a whole new crop of lawmakers about the importance of hydropower, these new lawmakers are likely to become fast champions. In many cases we can show them that because of hydropower, they already have a major source of renewable energy in their backyards.
Hydropower is also particularly well-positioned in a politically divided Washington. More than any other energy resource, hydropower garners support from both sides of the aisle and across the country. From the Pacific Northwest to the Deep South, hydropower is bringing together Republicans and Democrats on a clean energy agenda, exactly what President Obama asked Congress to do in his 2011 State of the Union Address.
Achieving the President's goal of 80 percent clean electricity by 2035 would be difficult, if not impossible, without hydropower. The reason is simple: no other energy source has so many of the characteristics needed for a low-carbon 21st century electricity system. Hydropower is a proven technology, is available in all 50 states, improves the reliability of the electric grid, helps integrate other renewables, provides affordable energy to millions of homes and businesses, and is a sustainable and climate-friendly energy option.
Substantially growing our hydropower resources will also have a major impact on our country's number one policy priority: creating jobs. A 2011 Department of Energy study and numerous independent analyses have shown there is significant potential for growth in our nation's hydropower capacity – growth, which if realized, could create more than a million new well-paying, family-supporting jobs.
From securing the right policies to support smarter regulations and project development to promoting exciting advancements in America's hydropower industry, the National Hydropower Association is your industry's voice in achieving these goals. This year, NHA is doing so with a new public affairs campaign that includes a new website at www.hydro.org and use of social media platforms Facebook and Twitter (follow us!). Connecting with policymakers and other stakeholders like never before, this expanded effort is already generating results in the form of increased interest and outreach from Capitol Hill.
Hydropower already does a lot, and offers much more! The time is ripe for hydropower's expansion – growth that will benefit American workers as well as our country's security, economy and environment. Capitalizing on this opportunity, NHA is working to nurture the relationships and craft the policies and regulations necessary to preserve and enhance existing hydropower, and ensure it's smart, environmentally sound, and sustainable expansion.
The hydropower industry, nearly 300,000 workers-strong, needs your support through its trade association. Join with your colleagues to make sure your voice is heard.
This is hydro's time!
David Moller, President
National Hydropower Association