Hydro Review

Hydro Organizations: Uniting, Promoting, and Advancing the Hydroelectric Power Industry

Hydropower organizations and associations provide benefits and support to their members as legislative advocates, industry representatives, educational resources and forums for collaboration. Following is information about organizations in the U.S. and Canada that promote the value and benefits of the hydropower industry to the public while helping members excel in their professional lives.

By Bethany Duarte

Membership-based trade organizations play a significant role in the hydropower industry by providing training and education, advocacy, networking opportunities and more. These benefits not only help members as professionals, they expand the industry and increase exposure on regional and national levels.

In this article, we present information about some of the larger, more active hydropower organizations and associations. Learning more about the role of these organizations and the benefits of belonging may help you decide whether one or more is right for you. We also provide contact information that includes mailing address, telephone number, e-mail and website.

Advocating for the industry

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) and Canadian Hydropower Association (CHA) serve as the national trade associations for the industry in the U.S. and Canada, respectively. Both strive to represent the interests of hydropower developers, producers, organizations, manufacturers, and other individuals with an interest in the success of the industry.

NHA works to advocate for the industry from Washington, D.C. As a voice for more than 180 companies in the U.S. hydropower industry, NHA utilizes policy initiatives, education, communication, and advocacy through councils and standing committees to emphasize the value of hydropower and promote its development. NHA plays a significant role in legislative action in favor of hydropower development, lobbying and promoting initiatives on behalf of the industry. The organization sponsors and hosts a variety of committee meetings throughout the year, as well as an annual conference to be held April 28-30 at the Capital Hilton, Washington D.C.

CHA provides similar advocacy, education, and promotion to the vibrant Canadian hydropower industry. Nearly 50 individual organizations, producers, developers, manufacturers, and engineering firms retain membership in the association, representing 95% of the hydropower capacity in the country. CHA sponsors several events throughout the year to provide educational and networking opportunities for its members, including the annual Forum on Hydropower in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Professional support for infrastructure

In addition, a variety of organizations exist to provide support and advocacy for particular aspects of hydropower, including dam construction, design and safety. The Canadian Dam Association (CDA), Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), and U.S. Society on Dams (USSD) boast a membership of dam operators, owners, engineers, regulators and other professionals involved in the design, construction and maintenance of dams.

CDA's goal is to provide a forum for dam design, construction, and safety professionals to exchange ideas and knowledge with the ultimate goal of promoting excellence in the industry. Much of this is accomplished through an annual conference, complete with keynotes, technical presentations and workshops, and exhibitors. Local committees and groups also host regional workshops, such as the Dams and Public Safety Workshop in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in mid-July 2013, and publish guidelines and bulletins. Also, the quarterly magazine, CDA Bulletin, provides technical articles and news to members.

ASDSO also provides a forum for dam professionals within the U.S., with an emphasis on developing and maintaining safe infrastructure, both for hydropower use and other commercial and municipal use. The organization serves the dam safety community, as well as state safety officials, providing education, training, recruitment, communication and resources to the industry. Current projects include development of dam engineer training programs, educational sessions for dam owners, recruitment efforts and scholarships to college students and a monthly newsletter. A number of committees exist, ranging from finances to levee safety and dam failures to contribute to projects and promote the organization. ASDSO members will converge at the annual conference Sept. 8-12, 2013, in Providence, R.I.

USSD works to emphasize and maximize the role of dams in the U.S. In practical terms, this means advancing and disseminating knowledge about dam design, construction, operation, technology, performance, security, maintenance, decommissioning and safety. The organization also is proactive in promoting public awareness of the importance of dams in the water resources' system of the U.S. USSD also is the American representative of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD). Members of USSD will meet to present technical papers, exhibit their products and services, and participate in workshops at the USSD Annual Meeting and Conference in San Francisco, Calif., April 7-11, 2014.

Technical collaboration

Technical and research organizations exist to create a forum for technical experts in the hydroelectric industry as well. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Hydro Research Foundation (HRF), Ocean Energy Council (OEC) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) each speak to a particular branch or aspect of the industry, providing support to more technical professionals.

EPRI serves as a research and development firm for the entire electricity industry, with a goal of improving generation, transmission and delivery for the public. The organization's membership represents 90% of the electricity transmitted for use in the U.S., as well as international participation in 30 countries. EPRI combines knowledge and expertise from engineers, scientists, industry experts and academics to provide research products on a variety of topics, including hydropower.

HRF is a hydropower-focused non-profit research firm with the goal of facilitating research that is used to educate and communicate the significant role of hydropower in the U.S. Notable research includes environmental mitigation measures and methods to improve efficiency, thus increasing generation and benefit. Many of the measures researched rest on the concept of using technology to maximize the benefits and capacity of the hydroelectric industry. HRF also encourages education on a student and professional level, providing scholarships, fellowships, resources and training to prepare the next generation of hydroelectric professionals.

OEC deals with a specific facet of hydropower - the marine hydrokinetic and ocean energy industry. OEC works to communicate the facts and benefits of ocean energy to the public while providing a information to governmental agencies and international organizations.

ASCE and its various hydropower, water resources and geological committees provide engineers in the field with training, certification, networking and leadership opportunities. Additionally, ASCE is actively involved in the legislative process as an advocate for the civil engineering industry and the professionals that make it run successfully. Issues of sustainability, infrastructure safety and design, and ethics are discussed and communicated through ASCE's publications and educational initiatives. Multiple committees provide a task-oriented approach to niche-specific issues, such as environmental hazards for dam construction and ocean energy transmission.

Regional focus

Regional organizations represent the specific interests of their districts, states, and/or provinces, as well as concerns on national and international levels, promoting local hydroelectric power.

The Ontario Waterpower Association (OWA) is one Canadian example, promoting hydropower and encouraging development within the province of Ontario. Membership includes more than 150 organizations, including owners, consultants, aboriginal communities, engineering firms and generating companies all invested in further developing Canada's hydropower potential. As with many other regional organizations, OWA strives to represent the common interests of the industry in a more corporate relationship with the government. In this role, OWA works with the Canadian government to develop policies favorable to hydro development.

The Northwest Hydroelectric Association (NWHA) works in a similar capacity in the U.S. to represent the interests and promote development in the hydropower-rich northwestern region. NWHA's activities and advocacy are designed to protect the environment of the area, well-known for its rich ecosystem and fisheries. Membership is inclusive of all involved in the industry. NWHA represents its members on the regional, state and federal levels, standing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on behalf of the region, as well as in front of state legislatures. NWHA holds several education and networking events each year, including the NWHA Annual Conference Feb. 18-20, 2014, in Seattle, Wash.

The table that starts on page 104 provides information about a variety of associations, including contact information and meeting dates.

Bethany Duarte is associate editor of Hydro Review.

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