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      Thirteen things I learned in 2013

      December 31, 2013 2:47 PM by Bethany Duarte, associate editor of Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      Well, it has arrived. The end of the year is here, or will be in 10 hours or so. I find Dec. 31 to be a fun day to people watch. You see people gorging on candy and sweets and guzzling their body weight in champagne, which usually tells me that they are making a New Year’s resolution to eat better and maybe join a gym…again. Then there are the others that pretend it’s any other day, planning on being in bed by 10 and looking forward to a day off in the middle of the week. 

      I must admit I’m somewhere in the middle of it all. I have a deep love for New Year’s Eve and the morning that follows just simply because it’s a fresh start. It’s a universal, international, multilingual reset button that we all push at midnight. A new year full of possibilities and new opportunities (cue the cheesy notes of Auld Lang Syne).

      I have an annual habit of sitting down on Dec. 31 and writing down the major things I learned that year, as well as the goals I have for the following year. These lists end up on my refrigerator, where they are in full view until I get the next wave of pizza coupons in my mailbox and often fade into oblivion like most resolutions.

      This year, I thought I’d bring my annual habit to our blog. As I joined the hydro team here at PennWell in July of 2012, I didn’t really know enough about hydro by the time New Year’s rolled around to comment much. At the time, I was still soaking up the basics and learning the differences between Kaplan and Pelton.

      So here are 13 things I learned in 2013:

      1.) Washington is listening. Thanks to the efforts of the NHA and organizations like it, we as an industry made a splash this year when the President signed the “Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013” into law.

      2.) Second? H.R. 678. Otherwise known as the “Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act”, which amended the Reclamation Project Act of 1939.

      3.) More than 3,100 attendees from 53 different countries. 320 exhibitors. HydroVision International was the place to be in July. I was absolutely blown away by the event and more importantly, by all of you. We may have planned the event but you made it what it was. From the keynote and packed informational sessions to the exhibit floor and karaoke, it was fantastic getting to meet you all and discuss what’s happening in the industry. After what I saw in Denver, I can hardly wait for HydroVision 2014 in Nashville!

      4.) I heard from many of you that your favorite part of HydroVision this year was the fact that you came home with a‘dam’ shirt. I can’t blame you. That shirt was fantastic.

      5.) The hydro team has some serious creative clout. Our blog posts range from technical and informative to witty and humorous depending on the week. We have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to chat candidly about the industry, and not just from the technical perspective. The only thing that would make our blogs better is your comments. Come on, you know you want to (pardon the shameless plug).

      6.) You all are talking about hydropower. I say this because after publishing my blog post about getting out there and being vocal about the industry, I received some great e-mails from you telling me what you were doing to push the industry forward. To that, I saw bravo, and speak up even louder in the new year.

      7.) After hearing it more than 25 times this year, I have accepted the title graciously of “young Marla Barnes.” 

      8.) We are more than just professionals with common interests – this industry is a community. In some ways, it’s a very large, often dysfunctional, loud, but always practical family. This year, many of you became my friends. So thank you.

      9.) If I want to break the silence in a room at a hydropower event, all I need to do is drop two words: “dam” and“removal."

      10.) I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again – this is the most friendly, most accepting industry I’ve ever encountered. Proof? You all clapped during my karaoke debut at HydroVision. Good people right there.

      11.) Hydropower owes a large portion of its success to the sheer amount of practical knowledge and expertise you all bring to the table. From editing your articles to listening to you tell me about your latest innovation at your plant, I’m impressed by the collective dedication and intelligence of this industry.

      12.) The more meetings I attend, the more excited I get about the future of this industry. Between what the Hydro Research Foundation is doing, some of the student presentations I’ve had the privilege of hearing, and the young professionals I’ve met in the past year, the future of hydropower is in good hands.

      13.) Each and every e-mail, retweet, magazine subscription, comment on HydroWorld.com or REW.com, handshake at HydroVision, or follow on LinkedIn is a reminder of why I love my job. I love being able to look back over my year and see proudly that we provided you with practical, relevant, and useful information (with a side of humor from me). 

      Well there you have it. I can safely speak for our whole team when I wish you and yours a very happy New Year and best of luck in all you do in the year to come.

      Here’s to a great 2014!

      A Holiday Wish, From Michael Harris

      December 17, 2013 11:06 AM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      I'm not sure that it's a tangible or improvable skill like, say, playing the piano (which I was at one time relatively good at) or hacking divots into the golf course (which might be why I've never been asked to participate in the annual HydroVision International tournament), but I am bad -- woefully so, in fact -- at Christmas.

      I'm told there's an art to wrapping gifts. I don't have it. My presents are easily identifiable as the ones with sloppy creases and ribbons tied in knots I learned in Cub Scouts instead of from watching Martha Stewart.

      Meanwhile, my artificial tree is envious of Charlie Brown's droopy sapling -- and to further demonstrate my Christmas ineptitude, I strung it with orange lights as an homage to my alma mater, Oklahoma State. You know. Because that makes sense, right?

      It seemed like a good idea until I fell asleep on the couch one night, only to hit my head on the coffee table when I rolled off it in a panic-induced stupor thinking the orange glow were flames consuming my apartment instead of the Christmas tree standing innocently in the corner.

      I'm not even good at deciding what I want for Christmas, and aside from the US$2 million two-person submarine I saw in the SkyMall catalog during my most recent flight, I'm mostly just hoping I've been good enough for Santa Claus to bring me a new vacuum cleaner and some dress socks.

      I thought it might befit the season, however, if I were to make a holiday wish list for the hydropower industry as the editor of HydroWorld.com and not as a 30-year old who still secretly wants Legos and G.I. Joe action figures.

      So, without further ado, here are the five things I'd wish for if I could have anything for the hydroelectric world:

      1)  I wish that Brazil can make significant strides in the development of its hydropower sector, particularly with regard to a number of the larger projects that have been plagued by delays and controversy. Though the importance of hydroelectricity as an energy commodity has never been more prominent -- particularly as the country sprints to prepare for the upcoming FIFA World Cup and 2014 Olympic Games -- projects like the 11.2-GW Belo Monte and 1.8-GW Teles Pires have been halted numerous times through the past year alone.

      2)  I wish that the United States Congress continues to make hydropower a priority in the following year. Two bills signed off by President Obama in August are indeed a good start, and additional legislation currently moving through the Senate would only add to what has already been enacted. The fact that hydropower has been included in two recent national renewable portfolio standard proposals is also a victory for the industry, but as often seems to be the case, there is still more work to be done.

      3)  I wish for more multinational hydropower investments in emerging and recovering markets. With the World Bank announcing its renewed support for large hydroelectric projects earlier this year and other financial institutions following suit, it's fantastic to see lenders proactively choosing to invest in hydropower for both its energy production and ancillary benefits. This is especially true for many of the African and Asian projects we've covered this past year where irrigation and flood control are as significant considerations as electricity. Small hydropower hasn't been left out either, given that localized projects are helping provide electricity in areas where grids might not otherwise be able to reach.

      4)  I wish for even more advances in the marine and hydrokinetics sector. The MHK market might still be a bit alien to hydropower traditionalists, but with significant research being done around the globe, wave energy and tidal power aren't going anywhere. And though development is still an emphasis, the real race now seems to be toward full-scale commercial production.

      5)  I wish for more news out of Canada. While writing the cover story for the December 2013 issue of Hydro Review magazine, it became apparent to me that I could do a better job of finding more day-to-day news from our northern neighbors. And like Ralphie Parker dropping hints for an official Red Ryder, carbine-action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, this is where I leave my email address and encourage those of you doing work in Canada to let us know what you're up to.

      I think this is the point in virtually every Christmas movie where a doe-eyed child emerges from a crowd of cynical non-Santa believers and tells them if they all hope really hard that their wish will come true.

      So, perhaps if we all wish together, the industry will get some of what it wants this holiday season.

      And as for me, I think I've changed my mind. Skip the submarine and give me an Oklahoma State victory over Hydro Review sales director Howard Lutzk's Missouri Tigers in the Cotton Bowl instead.

      Happy holidays from all of us here at HydroWorld.com, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide magazines.

      A hydropower engineer walks into a bar …

      December 10, 2013 11:55 AM by Elizabeth Ingram, senior editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      When the owner of a pub in the United Kingdom needed a way to provide electricity for its operations that relied on renewables rather than fossil fuel, hydroelectric power became the answer. How fun is that?!

      The pub, called Sticklebarn, has been a fixture near Ambleside in the Lake District for more than 40 years. It is located near a stream with a flow of nearly 200 L per second. The National Trust took over ownership of the pub in March 2013 and just recently received approval to install a 100-kW turbine-generator unit to take advantage of this resource. This project, called Stickle Ghyll, is expected to cost £650,000 (US$1.07 million).

      The National Trust is a charity that works to preserve and protect historic places and spaces. It opens 300 historic houses and properties to the visiting public, operates 360 holiday cottages and cares for thousands of tenanted buildings. The trust spends almost £6 million (US$9.86 million) a year on electricity, oil and gas. National Trust staff work in the pub and share their knowledge and expertise of the outdoors with the thousands of visitor who come to the valley for its outdoor activities, the trust says.

      Development of this hydro project is part of a wider aspiration to turn Sticklebarn into the UK’s most sustainable pub, the National Trust says. The pub is focused on sustainability in other areas as well. It produces its own vodka and gin and serves food grown by neighboring tenant farmers. Many of the beers offered are from local breweries. All profits from the pub go back into protecting the local landscape.

      This project is one of three from the National Trust that are included in a pilot phase of its major renewables investment program. The National Trust has pledged to invest nearly £3.5 million (US$5.75 million) in five pilot projects during 2013/2014. The other hydro project involves a plant at Craflwyn near Beddgelert, Snowdonia. Electricity from this project will be sold back to the grid.

      If the pilot is deemed successful, the trust expects to spend ten times that sum on a program that will enable it to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources and halve its fossil fuel consumption by 2020. In 2008, only 1% of energy consumed by National Trust properties came from renewable sources and 99% from fossil fuel.

      “Small wind turbines and hydropower plants can be developed in harmony with their surrounding landscape, archaeology and ecology and can enhance people’s enjoyment of the countryside,” the trust says.

      Facilities the trust has already converted to be powered by renewable energy include Gibson Mill, a textile mill in West Yorkshire that is powered by a combination of wood fuel and solar for heating and hydroelectric power and solar panels for electricity. Another is Bonfield Gill Farm in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, where a 1-kW Archimedes screw is used to generate electricity.

      I think this is a fun story, not just because it involves a pub but because it shows the value of hydropower as a distributed source of electricity, similar to how many facility owners are installing solar panels. Hopefully more business owners will look to the surrounding area for renewable resources and see the hydropower potential in their own back yards.

      If you know of any stories similar to this one, tell me about it below. I would love to learn about more development of this type.

      Aboriginal perspective - a recommendation

      December 3, 2013 2:54 PM by Bethany Duarte, associate editor of Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      I’ve admitted before that I came into this industry knowing very little about hydropower, and that I have been on a quest to understand not only the technical aspects of the industry but also the cultural significance and impacts of hydropower ever since.

      I was beyond fascinated by author Chris Henderson’s presentation this past October at the Ontario Waterpower Association’s Power of Water Canada Conference. Henderson, a professional in the clean energy, sustainable development, and Aboriginal partnership sectors in Canada, released his book “Aboriginal Power: Clean Energy & the Future of Canada’s First Peoples.”

      Officially launched for the first time at the OWA conference, the book dives deep into the rich partnership and connection between hydroelectric power generation and First Nations in Canada.

      As we have readers from all over the world, a little context is important.

      The First Nations are bands of Aboriginal peoples in Canada, of which there are more than 630 officially recognized across the nation. Nearly half of this population is concentrated in British Columbia and Ontario.

      In my travels to Canada on behalf of Hydro Review magazine, I have been overwhelmed by the richness and diversity of the First Nation culture I’ve encountered. There is much to see, as the First Nations have invested heavily into hydroelectric power generation on their native lands.

      In his book, Henderson broaches this important topic by identifying the role Aboriginal co-ownership and investment in renewable energy development can play in both the future of power generation and the First Nations culture.

      As both a history buff and hydropower journalist, this book was an incredibly intriguing read, as Henderson drew upon both his background as an Aboriginal elder and his experience in renewable energy and economic development to suggest a bridge that would connect the two for generations to come. He uses engaging stories, case profiles of projects from all over the country, and the economic and policy issues that come up with a co-owned project.

      Henderson discusses a wide range of topics, including trends he has seen in Aboriginal power development, the ins-and-outs of renewable energy partnerships, decision-making within the community setting, and project financing.

      As indigenous partnerships, aboriginal renewable energy development, and rural economic development are concerns and issues on a global scale, I would highly recommend this as a read for those within North America and beyond.

      To order, visit aboriginalpower.ca.

      Happy Thanksgiving

      November 27, 2013 11:35 AM by MichaelH

      A day from now I imagine I will be laying on my couch in sweatpants, watching football and wallowing in self-pity for having gorged on too much turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and all the other accoutrements associated with Thanksgiving.

      For those in our international audience, the American version of Thanksgiving is thought to be a derivative of a celebration that first took place during the early 1620s in Plymouth, Mass., which was, as the name might suggest, a day reserved for "giving thanks".

      It seems prudent then that we at HydroWorld.com take a brief moment to reflect on all the hydroelectric industry has to give thanks for this past year, and for all our friends around the globe, we hope you have as much to be thankful for as we do.

      This year has been an exciting year for hydro power both at home in the U.S. and abroad, and though there have most certainly been downs, it feels like we've got a lot more to celebrate than lament.

      So, that said, Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at HydroWorld.com, and Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide magazines.

      We hope all of you have as much to be thankful for as we do, and we hope the coming year gives us just as much to celebrate in 2014.

      Pumped storage in the spotlight

      November 20, 2013 10:49 AM by Elizabeth Ingram, senior editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      I have always found pumped-storage hydropower to be a fascinating technology.

      According to Wikipedia, the first use of pumped storage was in the 1890s in Italy and Switzerland. And the first pumped-storage plant built in the U.S. was in 1930 by the Connecticut Electric and Power Company, using a reservoir near New Milford, Ct., and pumping water from the Housatonic River. Reversible turbine-generator units became available in the 1930s.

      Since that time, pumped storage has evolved significantly. There is a fascinating pumped-storage plant in Okinawa, Japan, that uses the Philippine Sea as its lower reservoir. And in May, Norwegian scientists unveiled a concept for a pumped-storage facility on the ocean floor!

      A new technology that is showing a great deal of promise for existing as well as new pumped-storage facilities is variable speed units. With these units, the speed can be varied through a frequency converter, allowing a change in the discharge/power in pump mode. And in turbine mode, the unit can operate at peak efficiency over a larger portion of its operating range. By comparison, with fixed speed units, there is only one operating point for a given head. This technology has been used for several years, particularly in Japan, and shows promise in dealing with the rapid growth of intermittent power sources, such as wind and solar.

      Pumped storage is enjoying some time in the spotlight these days, due in part to the fact that it is the only technology available to store electricity economically and on a large scale. Sure, there are other storage options available, and these include batteries and compressed air. However, a study recently released by scientists at Stanford University revealed that when looking at energy return on investment of wind and solar resources, large-scale geologically based storage technologies such as pumped-storage hydro and compressed air provide a much higher return than electrochemically based storage technologies such as batteries. The obvious limitation with compressed air storage is the fact that there are only two operating plants of this type in the world according to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the largest having a capacity of 290 MW.

      Compare this with the sheer number and size of pumped-storage projects being built worldwide. For example, Indonesia is working on construction of the 1,040-MW Upper Cisokan project on the Cisokan River in West Java. In October, an inauguration ceremony was held to mark the completion of the 2,000-MW La Muela project in Spain’s Jucar River Basin. And in September, Quarry Battery Company received planning permission to develop the 49.4-MW Glyn Rhonwy project in a former slate mine in Wales.

      Another boost to pumped storage, in the U.S., is recent legislation passed that requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to examine a two-year licensing process for closed-loop pumped-storage projects. FERC defines closed loop as those projects that are not continuously connected to a naturally flowing water feature.

      Interest is reviving in this country when it comes to pumped-storage development, with many potential locations being studied. Moriah Hydro Corp. filed a draft hydropower license application with FERC in October for the 260-MW Mineville project in New York. This project would be located completely underground in an abandoned mine complex. In August, Hydro Green LLC filed an application for a preliminary permit for the 1,270-MW Fort Ross project in California, which would use water from the Pacific Ocean.

      There are SO many issues being discussed around pumped storage right now that I haven’t even touched on. These include how this technology can be compensated for the grid-supporting services it provides (I hear California is working to establish a framework for long-term payments for storage), whether pumped storage can be considered renewable (given that it uses power from the grid during pumping mode and this power may come from fossil-fueled facilities), and how to minimize environmental effects (the closed-loop aspect mentioned above being one solution).

      What is your opinion of pumped-storage hydro? Do you see it as a valuable storage resource? If so, what are the obstacles you think need to be overcome to further its development, both in the U.S. and globally? What are the issues I didn’t touch on that are integral to the debate surrounding this hydro technology? Give me your feedback so we can further the discussion.

      Leaving a legacy

      November 15, 2013 1:35 PM by Bethany Duarte, Associate editor of Hydro Review

      As an amateur historian, I enjoy collecting random history facts that I can pull from the recesses of my memory at the perfect moment to insert into any discussion. Recently, hydropower fulfilled my daily quota of historical knowledge.

      The benefit to covering an industry with roots more than 100 years deep in mechanical and engineering history is witnessing historic events, moments, and milestones that any journalist is grateful to cover. In this case, I was intrigued when I saw that the Kaplan turbine was conceived 100 years ago on August 7, 1913.

      As one of my first questions upon entering the industry was “what is the difference between all these turbines?” I found myself typing Kaplan on a daily basis in my work, which spoke loudly of the large role the technology plays in hydroelectric power generation, an accomplishment that I am sure Viktor Kaplan would be quite proud of.

      Viktor Kaplan registered his Kaplan turbine patent, described as an adjustable blade propeller turbine, in August of 1913 in Austria. He first tested his technology with a demonstration unit installed in Podebrady, Czechoslovakia, but faced a lot of issues with heavy cavitation on the unit. While he stopped researching in 1922, Voith kept working on the technology and produced a unit for use in a river the same year. By 1928, Voith had installed four Kaplan turbines at the 120-MW Rheinkraftwerk Ryburg-Schwörstadt plant in Rheinfelden, Switzerland.

      To celebrate the technology’s centennial, Viktor Kaplan’s great-grandson Roland Athenstaedt and his sons visited one of Viktor’s workplaces and a hub of early research on the Kaplan unit: Voith in Heidenheim, Germany, says a release by Voith.

      “My children are currently looking at forms of renewable energy at school. I therefore thought it would be a good idea to explain hydropower to them and show them the company where their great-great-grandfather had carried out research,” commented Athenstaedt, who took a tour of the Heidenheim facility, including the production department and test and development center. The facility that saw the early tests of the equipment still continues to produce Kaplan turbines today.

      To an outsider, this is a symbol of the longstanding benefits and impact of hydropower, not only in regards to the lifespan of the infrastructure, but to the legacy it leaves behind.

      I would love to hear any stories of the legacy hydro leaves on past generations. Did a trip to Hoover dam as a child inspire your love for dam safety or engineering? Tell me your hydro legacy below. 

      Thoughts on a national renewable portfolio standard

      November 8, 2013 1:43 PM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      With a pair of federal renewable portfolio standards submitted to the Senate within just days of each other during the last week of October, I thought it might be a good idea to compare the two in terms of what they would do for the hydropower industry.

      The first -- introduced to Congress on October 29 by senators Mark Udall, Tom Udall and Ben Cardin -- is called the Renewable Electricity Standard Act of 2013 (or officially Senate Bill 1595).

      The second -- the American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act (S.B. 1627) -- was introduced two days later by Sen. Edward Markey.

      Both bills include provisions that would require utilities to obtain a minimum of 25% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025, and, most significantly for this industry, hydroelectric power is included in each.

      The most significant difference between the two -- as it pertains solely to hydropower -- lies in the manner in which piece of legislation defines project eligibility.

      S.B. 1595 states that hydropower projects to be included in the national renewable portfolio standard (RPS) must be "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".

      In other words, existing hydroelectric capacity would not be counted towards a utility's "base quantity of electricity" unless it was already considered "renewable" under a given state's standard.

      Meanwhile, S.B. 1627 uses Jan. 1, 2001, as its cutoff date for eligible hydropower plants, though it adds the caveat that it "does not include additional energy generated as a result of operational changes not directly associated with efficiency improvements or capacity additions".

      I have heard some cry foul in saying the bills would harm hydroelectric development by putting hydro on an uneven playing field with solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and other forms of renewables that the legislation would presumably benefit, but frankly, the fact that hydro is even included should be chalked up as a victory for the industry.

      To me, hydro's inclusion reflects changing attitudes toward it as a means of green power production, so though its inclusion in renewable portfolio standards at the state level has often been a source of controversy, its prominence in both Senate proposals indicates rather definitively that hydro power has gained acceptance at the federal level.

      Hydro's resurgence in the minds of America's policy makers is further evidenced in the passage of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (House Resolution 267) and Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (H.R. 678) -- both of which were signed into law by President Barack Obama in August, and both of which emphasize the potential for hydroelectric development at existing federally-owned infrastructure.

      It would seem to me then that both S.B. 1595 and S.B. 1627 would only serve as boons for hydropower -- especially given the avenues for development opened by H.R. 267 and H.R. 678.

      In fact, I would argue that the cutoff dates included in both Senate proposals are actually more beneficial to the hydropower industry than if all existing projects were included in the national RPS since they actually encourage new development.

      And though they most certainly open the doors for other renewables as well, I can't help but think hydropower has a lot of things going its way when it comes time for utilities to determine how they're going to increase their green power output.

      Crickets are chirping

      November 1, 2013 3:39 PM by Bethany Duarte, Associate Editor of Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      While it is a bit challenging to follow up on fellow editor Elizabeth Ingram’s blog post last week covering the best of the best (or worst) in dam humor, I will make a valiant effort. After chuckling at some awful hydro jokes, I realized that the appeal of Elizabeth’s blog is a wonderful reflection on our industry.

      As I mentioned in a previous blog, I see this industry as a perfect mix of expertise and humor. The sense of community is unparalleled, and it’s obvious when you read the comfortable tone we take when chatting with you via this blog.

      As a result, I was a bit surprised when I saw no comments or responses to the blog, and more surprisingly, no additional jokes added. I KNOW you all have some more humorous one-liners in your repertoire.

      When the hydro editors first brought up the idea of having a weekly blog, one of our goals was to facilitate conversation, to keep the talk going online in between shows, meetings, e-mails, and phone calls. As HydroWorld.com is the online community for the hydropower industry, what better place is there to start a dialogue about anything and everything hydro (including jokes and sarcastic commentary to brighten all of our days).

      It also gives each of us editors the opportunity to have our own voice and show our own thoughts on the industry. If you pay attention to our posts, we each have our own little sector that we like to talk about and feel confident discussing. It’s a great break from our more technical work, and as Elizabeth mentioned, a great way to delve into the creative parts of our brains.

      The tricky thing about dialogue is it requires multiple voices. So far, the crickets have been chirping pretty loudly. This is where you come in!

      We love receiving comments on our blogs and on our regular news stories as well. Agree? Disagree? Want to bring up another topic we didn’t include? We want to hear about it.

      So scroll down just a bit, place your cursor in the box below and let us know what you think!

      I fall dam low on inspiration

      October 23, 2013 2:34 PM by Elizabeth Ingram, senior editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      I really enjoy blogging. After nearly 10 years of covering the international hydroelectric industry as an editor (not writer), it’s nice to get the chance to stretch my creative writing muscles once in a while. They’re still a bit stiff and underused, to be honest.

      But as I was sitting in my plush office (industrial cubicle) and browsing the internet searching for inspiration for this week’s blog, I was underwhelmed by the results. Sure, I have some great topics waiting in the wings that I could write about. I’d tell you what they are, but I hate to ruin it for the three or so (maybe less) of you who actually look forward to reading my blog when it appears.

      Unfortunately, while hopefully informative and thought-provoking, I found those topics I was holding in reserve to be a bit dry and not what I wanted to write about on this brisk fall day. What to do?

      So … I am resorting to telling bad jokes. Follow me here.

      At HydroVision International 2013 in Denver, Colo., we held our first T-shirt giveaway. The marketing staff at PennWell and the hydro group editors worked to come up with a catchy saying. Eventually we arrived at “I Attended HydroVision and Got This Dam Shirt.” Perhaps not particularly original, but we liked it.

      And evidently attendees did too, as the shirts were surprisingly popular. In fact, we “sold out” on the first day and had to order a fresh batch for the second day of the event. They sold out that day as well.

      What was it about these shirts that made people want them? It just had to be the catchy slogan with its (ever so slightly) provocative use of the word dam.

      I started looking around for other creative uses of the word dam. Those of you who have been around this industry for a while may remember the Dam Band, which used to play during the closing luncheon of HydroVision International.  Or maybe you’ve visited the Hoover Dam Store, where you can get the “Best Dam Gifts in the West!”

      That brought me to dam jokes. None of these are particularly “good,” but my favorite was:

      Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says, “Dam!” What does the dam say back to the fish? “Dumb bass.”

      And of course there are examples of every possible variation of the word dam to describe something, from dam water to dam fish to dam restroom to, inexplicably, dam ham (don’t ask).

      But, these were a bit predictable, so I moved on to find some good engineering jokes. The results here were a bit broader. I did run across some jokes I just couldn’t print on this page without blushing (they’re not hard to find, just google “engineering jokes”). Despite this, there were some good, PG-rated ones I felt comfortable sharing with you:

      To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

      Arguing with an engineer is a lot like wrestling in the mud with a pig. After a few hours, you realize that he likes it.

      What about you? I’m sure there are some great dam and engineering puns and jokes out there. It is your DUTY to share them with the readers of HydroWorld.com. So place them in the comment box below. Who knows, your joke or play on words may be so good we put it on next year’s HydroVision International T-shirt!

      An Update from Canada

      October 21, 2013 10:24 AM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      Not to give too much away, but I'm currently working on an update on the state of hydropower development in Canada for December's issue of Hydro Review magazine.

      In putting the story together, I've relied heavily on discussions with a number of industry leaders and advocates. And though their opinions on various individual factors affecting the industry have varied significantly, it's been reassuring that their overall assessments regarding the future of Canadian hydro power have all generally been positive.

      I'd mentioned to Canadian Hydropower Association president Jacob Irving that, in my observation at least, it doesn't seem like Canada's waterpower development sparks the same kind of opposition it does in many parts of the world. Whether that's the result of hydro's long history in Canada or not, it's a marked difference from a number of other countries I've covered in recent months (looking at you, Brazil).

      "I think the stakeholders in Canada are seeing commitments being made and commitments being adhered to," Irving said. "The developers have built trust with the communities and the communities have built trust with the developers, and things are starting to proceed more from a partnership perspective.

      "That's what it really boils down to, and it's perhaps the reason why compared to other parts of the world, you might not see as much conflict or confrontation."

      In doing research, I've heard a lot of really positive stories about project development, proactive stakeholder interaction and good environmental and social stewardship, but I'm still interested in hearing more.

      So, if you've got one you'd like to share, shoot me an email.

      A year in hydro

      October 9, 2013 10:47 AM by Bethany Duarte, Associate Editor

      Roger Clarke-Johnson created quite a stir at the Rocky Mountain Hydro Party at this year’s HydroVision International when he launched into his own karaoke version of “Soul man.” In between serving as a back-up dancer and laughing with many of you, I realized that the personality of the hydropower industry was showing in full force that night.

      I just celebrated the end of my first year in the PennWell Hydro Group only days after returning from HydroVision International. To say that the event was the cherry on top of a fantastic year immersing myself into hydro would be an understatement. It was a pinnacle of sorts, a logical conclusion to a 365-day long learning experience.

      Through my work on Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide magazines, as well as travelling to tradeshows and meetings, I have made contact with many of you and gotten to know you and your business better. I would like to say that I have felt the pulse of the industry, so to speak. As I start in on year two, I want to share what I’ve seen over the past 12 months.

      Every industry has a unique personality. Oftentimes, the personality itself is one of diversity. This is true in the publishing world, where we writers and editors have similar skills and abilities that converge to meet common goals. The personality of the hydro industry is no different. The diversity that I’ve seen through conversations and events is only surpassed by the common motivation and solid sense of teamwork between industry members. At HydroVision, I had the opportunity to facilitate a steering committee meeting for the Ocean/Tidal/Stream track at HydroVision International 2014. I was surprised and excited to see how colleagues, some of whom had never met, could launch into a passionate dialogue about where the wave, stream, and marine hydrokinetic industries are headed.

      This strong collaborative spirit is no surprise to any of you, but as an industry rookie, I have to highlight it as something I am very pleased to be a part of!

      I have also never been in an industry that felt more like a professional community of friends than simply colleagues than the hydro industry. Over the months, I would hear about the note of camaraderie and friendship that characterize this industry, but I didn’t have my own personal example until just recently. I became engaged in December and my excitement exploded while on my first few business trips this year. Whoever I was talking to would offer brief congratulations, and move on. Truthfully, I didn’t expect anything further. You can imagine how touched I was to be asked repeatedly at HydroVision how my wedding planning was coming along, where my fiancé and I were honeymooning, and how excited I was. To all who asked, please pardon the look of surprise on my face. I was so moved by the genuine goodness of the industry and how it was showing in my own life. For that, I thank you all!

      The third thing about hydro that has stood out to me, and excited me the most, is the passion you all have for your trade.

      As a small town girl from Oklahoma, I honestly had never heard of hydropower prior to joining this group. I remember thinking how out of the loop I was when I attended my very first NHA Hydraulic Power Committee meeting and couldn’t follow along during the technical tours. Within moments of me saying I didn’t understand, three engineers were “dumbing down” the details for me and explaining them in a way that I could understand. There was not a single note of frustration that I didn’t understand, but only passion and excitement for an industry that they firmly believed in.

      Perhaps more than anything else I’ve seen in the industry, this stands out the most. Hydro is not just a job for you, it’s a passion; a calling of sorts that doesn’t just fade away at 5 pm. This heart and soul dedication to an industry is something I’ve only seen on rare occasion, and something I feel privileged to be a part of.

      I’ve definitely learned more from you all in the past year, but those three things are enough to get me excited for what’s to come. Thank you all for welcoming me into your world, bearing with me and my incessant questioning, and I look forward with working with you all in the years to come.

      Is dam removal really an environmental panacea?

      October 8, 2013 3:24 PM by Elizabeth Ingram, senior editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      We report on dam removal fairly regularly on HydroWorld.com, as part of our commitment to bring you comprehensive news on the hydroelectric power industry. Avoiding this particular subset of the industry, despite the overt negative connotations, would be an obvious oversight. Dam removal happens, and we need to talk about it.

      However, I have mixed feelings when it comes to the topic. On the one hand, over my 10 years of reporting on this industry, I have become intimately familiar with the time, effort and money involved with building a dam. These things do not go in quickly, and it typically is not an easy process. On the other hand, I am aware that the very existence of a dam alters the riverine environment around it and downstream, whether you are referring to sedimentation issues, dissolved gas or fish passage.

      Are all dam removals “bad?” Certainly not. Are there reasons for them? Definitely. Are these reasons justified in all cases? I’m sure the parties believe they are, or the dams would not be removed.

      Despite this, I am still skeptical about the practice. It seems to spur primarily from two things. One is the desire to protect fish by restoring native habitat. The other is to forge an agreement between affected parties during the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing of a hydroelectric project.

      For example, we reported that work began in July 2013 on removal of Veazie Dam on the Penobscot River in Maine. This work will restore nearly 1,000 miles of habitat for a number of sea-run fish species. This dam is 830 feet long and 30 feet high and was completed in 1913. It impounded water for an 8.4-MW powerhouse and was owned by PPL Corporation before it was acquired by the Penobscot River Restoration Trust in 2010. The dam is expected to be gone by the end of 2014.

      Just a month earlier, in June, we reported on a ceremony marking the first day of the deconstruction of San Clemente Dam on the Carmel River in California. This situation is a little different in that the dam, built in 1921, was determined to be seismically unsafe and an impediment to steelhead trout and other wildlife. Owner California American Water requested permission to remove the dam in September 2009, and a US$61 million contract was awarded to Granite Construction in May 2013. This work will help restore 25 miles of steelhead spawning habitat.

      By far the most fascinating story I have been following with regard to dam removal involves the four PacifiCorp-owned dams and hydroelectric projects along the Klamath River in southern Oregon and northern California that are recommended for removal. In April 2013, the U.S. Department of Interior released its final environmental impact statement, with a recommendation for the full removal of the 90-MW J.C. Boyle, 20-W Copco, 1.27-MW Copco 2 and 18-MW Iron Gate projects.

      This is by no means the final say in the fate of these projects, but it does seem to point in the direction of the verdict. Removal of these dams will help Interior and other federal and state agencies carry out obligations set forth in the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement. This agreement, reached in February 2010, lays out the process for additional studies, environmental review and a decision by the Secretary of Interior regarding whether removal of these four dams will advance restoration of the salmonid fisheries of the Klamath Basin and is in the public interest.

      Before a decision can be made, the Secretary must undertake a thorough scientific review of existing science, data and other information so as to be fully informed of the potential costs, benefits and liabilities associated with removing these dams.

      I know what I am about to say is incredibly simplistic, but it is a bit sad to me to see four hydroelectric facilities taken out of commission. That’s more than 129 MW of electricity generating capacity that must be replaced by something. Sure, some of this can be replaced by upgrades of existing facilities, but we all know not much new hydro development work is going on in this country right now, so it’s not likely new plants will come on line that can fully replace the four being eyed for removal.

      How do you feel about dam removal? Is it the right thing? Is it accomplishing the goals envisioned when the decision to remove the dam is made?

      Bridging the gap

      October 1, 2013 4:48 PM by Bethany Duarte, Associate Editor

      This last week, I had the privilege of attending the Oregon Wave Energy Trust’s Annual Conference, which was held in beautiful Astoria, Oregon.

      When I arrived in town and set out to explore before the conference started, I enjoyed chatting up the locals and quizzing them on tidal energy and the role it had in the global energy mix. The college student who delivered a pizza to my hotel room commented that he actually was an oceanography student that went out on a research boat and assisted with some sort of turbulence testing. Another lady behind the counter of an eclectic shop launched into a passionate expose explaining the benefits of tidal energy as opposed to conventional hydropower.

      Even more intriguing was the couple I sat by at a networking lunch that openly explained that they had attended the conference to learn more about the industry after hearing rumors of a substation being built near their home.

      These conversations always led to me being asked what I did specifically, and when I said that I was an editor of a magazine covering hydroelectric power in North America and abroad, the reactions were worth mentioning. A mix of surprise, speculation, and a raised eyebrow was the main response to my occupation, a strong difference to what I would hear if I were in Canada or even Tennessee.

      Again, I am intrigued by the dynamic that exists between the wave, tidal, and in-stream industry and conventional hydropower.

      From the perspective of the journalist, I see them both as integral pieces of an emerging renewable energy mix that take full advantage of one of the world’s most plentiful resources: water.  As an editor of HydroReview, I cover them both and enjoy reading about the latest case studies and technologies you all are contributing to the field. In addition, I am involved in recruiting speakers for the Wave, Tidal, and In-Stream conference track at HydroVision International 2014. All in all, I have an appreciation for both and see how they meld together to create a stronger renewable energy portfolio.

      I sense a slightly different dynamic, however, when I discuss bridging the gap between the two, and would like to hear both sides of the discussion. Do the two connect? What are your thoughts? Respond below and let me know what you think regarding the connection (or lack thereof) between conventional hydropower and wave, tidal, and in-stream power. 

      Brazil still hotbed for hydropower development, but conditions could be better

      September 25, 2013 11:29 AM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      It probably isn't coincidence that Eletrobras Furnas president Flavio Decat remarked that "hydro is treated as an evil" during his HydroVision Brasil 2013 keynote address just days after work was suspended at the country's 1.8-GW Teles Pires hydropower project.

      And even though Decat's frustration might stem from the fact that his company holds a 24.5% share in the consortium developing Teles Pires, it also reflects a continuing trend and a larger issue.

      To summarize a 2009 study prepared by Mateus Machado Neves of George Washington University's School of Business and Public Management, Brazil has a series of federally-mandated approvals most hydroelectric projects must receive before receiving approval to operate.

      The process isn't markedly different than it is in many other countries, with a number of criteria required before a project is given the go-ahead for commercial operation by the Agencia Nacional de Energia Electriqa (ANEEL).

      Brazil's government even adds another caveat to the mix with environmental regulatory agency Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente (Ibama), whose own three-stage licensing process is yet another issue developers must consider.

      As Neves notes, the process is, at times, arduous, but undeniably thorough.

      The lengthy system of checks-and-balances and federal approvals can be wiped away in an instant, however, by powers given to the country's Public Prosecutor's Office.

      "The Federal Constitution from 1988 attributed to the Ministerio Publico (MP) functions and technical conditions that surpass other public institutions, including the Judiciary," Neves writes.

      In other words, the agency has the authority to make arbitrary decisions regarding project development -- even for those already approved by ANEEL and Ibama.

      "The unlimited autonomy that the prosecutors have and the fact that there is no hierarchy in the institution are important aspects related to the difficulties of implementing a hydropower project," Neves continues. "The MP uses its wide power to interfere in issues that are not direct or clearly under its legal or technical competencies in an open disrespect to other institutions."

      Such a stretch of authority seems to have been the cause for Teles Pires' most recent delay since the project was awarded an installation license by Ibama in August 2011, though construction was also halted in March 2012 for similar reasons.

      That an agency would arbitrarily impede project development seems particularly curious given Brazil's emphasis on improving the country's electrical supply in anticipation of strains caused by the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.

      In fact, Eletrobras Furnas' own budget also reflects this, with proposed hydropower investments in 2013 up US$265 million from 2012.

      "Hydro is clean and good," Decat says.

      Still, Decat acknowledges that perhaps public perceptions of hydropower in a country like Brazil -- where environmental preservation and consideration for indigenous groups are issues almost always thrust to the forefront of any developer's mind -- might be causes of difficulty.

      "We are losing this communications battle," Decat says.

      So, for those who are currently developing projects in Brazil or have developed projects in Brazil, I'm interested in hearing more about your experiences.

      Is Decat correct in implying hydropower has a bad image, or are there other factors hindering the industry as well?

      Let’s talk about jobs

      September 17, 2013 8:20 AM by Elizabeth Ingram, senior editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      Job creation. It’s a top-of-mind issue for the U.S. and many other countries around the world.

      According to the McKinsey Global Institute, for the U.S. to return to full employment -- finding work for the currently unemployed and accommodating new entrants into the labor force this decade -- the U.S. economy will need to create 21 million jobs by 2010.

      This is a lofty target, to be sure. Job creation trends in the U.S. are positive at this time, which allows us to hold out hope that things are moving in the right direction. For example, Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index (Weekly) indicates job creation has been on a generally upward trend since about April 2009. (However, the index has not yet reached the level it was at in February 2008.)

      Of the new jobs that are being created, where are they? Overwhelmingly in the private sector. In fact, according to Gallup’s index, the federal government is in a negative hiring situation, with an index value of -12, compared with a non-government index value of 25. (This situation is a reversal of what was experienced in 2008 and 2009, when the federal government had an index of 30 and the private sector -5.)

      Where am I going with all of this? You know I’m headed right to hydropower. This industry has great potential to add to jobs around the world, from development of new plants, rehabilitation of existing plants, and service industry jobs surrounding these two activities. Some news stories recently posted on HydroWorld.com support this. For example:

      -- On Sept. 11, a story about Minesto considering Wales for deployment of its “Deep Green” tidal energy units featured a telling quote from Chief Executive Officer Anders Jansson: “This could bring highly qualified job opportunities to the region and also build expertise in marine energy.”

      -- In an Aug. 7 article on development of the 80-MW Rusomo Falls plant in Rwanda, the World Bank said this project will “reduce electricity costs, promote renewable power, spur job-led economic development and pave the way for more dynamic regional cooperation, peace and stability ….”

      -- And in a July 10 story encouraging movement on two pieces of hydropower legislation in the U.S., supporters stated in a letter, “The immediate passage of these bills will help to add more hydroelectric capacity to the nation’s electricity portfolio, producing significant job creation, energy and environmental benefits.”

      If you are looking for a more specific example of job creation in this industry, we need only turn to the 84-MW Cannelton project, under construction on the Ohio River in Kentucky. Developer AMP says this project will employ about 400 construction workers at peak. Once operational, the facility will employ seven to nine permanent operators and annually contribute $2.5 million to $3 million to the local economy.

      I would love to see every article or news story discussing new hydro development, no matter where it is published, highlight the job creation benefits of this industry. So, I am going to make a personal commitment to do my best to accomplish that in the magazines PennWell publishes.

      Do you know of great job creation statistics with regard to hydropower? Share those, or your own story of job creation, by commenting in the box below or sending me an email at elizabethi@pennwell.com. Let’s get the word out and continue to support hydropower as a valuable source of new jobs, in the U.S. and throughout the world.

      Can't we all just get along?

      September 11, 2013 3:45 PM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      It has been my observation that the relationship between hydropower developers and environmental protection groups within the United States is, for the most part, civil -- though such outward benevolence often belies apprehensions about the other party's ulterior motives.

      To be fair, both parties have vested, legitimate interests in America's rivers. For hydroelectric operators, rivers provide the lifeblood for energy production. For conservationists, rivers are sources of fish, wildlife and recreational opportunity.

      Determining why these groups might butt heads isn't difficult then, but changing attitudes by members of both groups seem to indicate a move toward symbiosis.as hydroelectric developers are making more concessions for environmental concerns and conservation groups are realizing the necessity of hydropower as an energy commodity.

      Reflecting this is a recent series of videos released by American Rivers that showcase several instances in which upgrades to dams and hydropower infrastructure have made plants safer for rivers.

      "It's about striking a better balance between hydropower production and healthy rivers," American Rivers Senior Director of Federal River Management John Seebach said.

      The three projects highlighted represent collaborations between American Rivers and power companies, state and federal agencies, tribes and local groups, making them "win-win solutions," according to Seebach.

      Featured by American Rivers are projects restorations of a 47-mile stretch along Michigan's Muskegon River below the 8.85-MW Croton hydropower plant; improved conditions for fish along South Carolina's Saluda River below Lake Murray Dam; and upgrades to the 465-MW Pelton Butte plant along the Deschutes River in Oregon.

      "Successes like those on the Deschutes, Muskegon and Saluda provide a blueprint for how we should be operating dams today, and in the future," Seebach said. "This is how you do hydropower right."

      The videos are available via American Rivers' YouTube account.

      M.H.K. in the U.S.A.

      August 28, 2013 3:30 PM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      Let's rewind a couple of weeks to August 9 -- a date of extreme significance for American hydropower as it marks the date President Barack Obama signed the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act into law.

      And though the enacment of each piece of legislature represents a significant victory for the conventional hydroelectric industry, they overshadow a bill that could ultimately prove as important for America's ocean, tidal and stream power sectors.

      Called the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act of 2013, or officially, S. 1419, the legislation was introduced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, in the days preceeding the current Congressional recess.

      S. 1419 has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for review, though that won't take place before the Senate reports back to Capitol Hill on September 9.

      The bill is designed to help commercialize marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies by streamlining permitting, and continuing research and development. Meanwhile, that the bill covers forms of energy produced by waves, currents, ocean tides and free-flowing water in lakes and rivers means most of the MHK spectrum is covered.

      The comprehensive nature of S. 1419 really seems to capture the underlying motivation for the legislation, which is, in my estimation at least, to close the gap with Europe in terms of MHK development and innovation.

      It's an audacious goal for sure -- especially considering the enviable state of Europe's MHK sector -- but given the estimated generating potential of America's coasts, rivers and lakes, I'd think domestic MHK development would be an avenue many would be anxious to explore.

      I suppose that's why I've been a bit surprised that there hasn't been more ballyhoo about S. 1419. After all, it seems as if MHK has, at an international level at least, been targeted by many within the industry as hydropower's "next big thing".

      So I'm curious for those in the U.S., is it just a general unfamiliarity with MHK that has caused it to be somewhat forgotten in discussions of American hydropower? Or is it something different altogether?

      And assuming it's possible to pinpoint any number of factors stunting American interest in MHK, what can be done to increase it?

      Or, is it simply that the U.S. has so many opportunities for conventional hydropower development that MHK options have, thus far, held little appeal?

      I'm interested to hear your opinions.

      Keeping a weather eye on FERC

      August 20, 2013 11:04 AM by Elizabeth Ingram, senior editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      One of my responsibilities as senior editor of the Hydro Group for PennWell is to keep the premium content subscribers on HydroWorld.com apprised with regard to hydro project activity taken by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

      This means, each and every week, I spend time reviewing FERC’s eLibrary, doing searches and reading orders and notices related to hydropower. Although this can be a lot of work -- and a lot of weeding through electronic documents -- it’s also a lot of fun because it allows me to “take the pulse,” so to speak, of all the activity going on around the permitting and licensing of hydroelectric facilities in the U.S.

      For months, the vast majority of the activity has related to permitting. We’ve had applications for preliminary permits and a lot of preliminary permits being issued. This is great, because it means a lot of companies are investigating the possibility of developing hydro plants.

      But, on the other hand, it is not so great because it means the vast majority of the work going on with regard to hydro in the U.S. relates to permits, not licenses. And it makes me wonder about the factors behind this trend.

      Recently, however, I’ve seen a bit of an uptick in licensing activity. In the past month, I’ve been able to add data to HydroWorld.com on licensing activity at five projects. With a total capacity of just over 14 MW, these aren’t big projects by any stretch of the imagination, but they ARE significant.

      Let me give you an example of a recent one, to illustrate my point.

      On Aug. 1, Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County in Washington filed an application for an operating license for its proposed 6-MW Calligan Creek Hydroelectric Project. Construction of this plant, on Calligan Creek in King County, would involve building a 14-foot-high diversion 110 feet long, a 1.2-mile-long penstock, and a powerhouse containing a 6-MW two-jet horizontal Pelton turbine-generator unit. When completed, the project would provide 20.7 GWh of electricity annually.

      This facility would be a great new source of hydropower generation, from a PUD that is known for its commitment to new development. In October 2011, the PUD’s 7.5-MW Youngs Creek hydro project began operating in Washington State, after a development timeline of 2.5 years and a total cost of $29 million. This was the first new hydroelectric plant built in the state in nearly 20 years, but clearly it won’t be the last.

      The schedule submitted with the application for the Calligan Creek project calls for FERC to issue the final environmental analysis for this project in January 2015.

      Does this recent upswing in hydro licensing activity portend a renaissance for hydropower development in the U.S.? It’s much too soon to tell, but I can’t help being a bit optimistic, especially in light of President Barack Obama’s recent signing of two hydroelectric power bills.

      What do you think? Is your company moving forward on new development work? Where? Why? Tell us what you think is going on and what you see for the future of new U.S. hydro.

      P.S. For those of you who might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about when I mention “premium content subscribers,” the editors of HydroWorld.com offer a subscription-based service that provides access to business opportunities worldwide, as well as FERC news and details on decisions issued by FERC pertaining to licensing and permitting for U.S. non-federal hydropower projects. Learn more here.

      Going medieval for hydropower

      August 6, 2013 6:48 PM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      To the unitard-clad harlequin in Larkspur, Colo. -- I must apologize.

      You see, I wasn't laughing at you.

      Well. Maybe I should clarify.

      I mean, I was laughing at you while you were doing somersaults, juggling flaming clubs and doing all the other things befitting a jester of the Good King Henry's court… but I wasn't laughing at you when you saw me looking curiously at the Colorado Renaissance Festival's massive waterwheel and asked if I was aware that water has many uses aside from drinking and bathing.

      You couldn't possibly have known that my presence at the renaissance fair (or is it faire?) was entirely predicated by my desire to kill the afternoon preceding the world's largest gathering of hydroelectric industry professionals.

      So, if a few errant giggles escaped when you very proudly boasted that water could be used to power everything from iron forges to gristmills to weaving looms, I'm sorry.

      Knowing my purpose in Colorado was for HydroVision International 2013, however, perhaps now you understand my suggestion that water might also be powering the deep-fryers used to cook Ye Olde Funnel Cakes, the refrigerators used to cool Ye Olde Coors Lite, and the ovens used to roast gigantic Ye Olde Turkey Legs.

      That water has been an important an important source of energy from times of Greek antiquity through the Dark Ages, Renaissance, Industrial Revolution, Space Age and beyond is more than a slight testament to its continued value and relevancy.

      And now if you'll excuse the sort of awkward transition that would make my journalism professors cringe, allow me to segue into the second part of today's blog entry.

      I'm assuming most have heard the good news out of Washington, D.C.

      If not, take a quick gander over here, pop a bottle of your finest mead, and come back when you've finished celebrating.

      To recap though -- the U.S. Senate has unanimously approved both the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act (House Resolution 267) and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (H.R. 678).

      Each piece of legislation is designed to improve conditions for domestic hydroelectric development by streamlining the federal regulatory process for certain types of projects, and each should be considered a major coup for the hydropower industry.

      Both H.R. 267 and 678 were significant points of emphasis during HydroVision International, though neither had yet come up for Senate voting.

      In fact, when discussing the likelihood of either bill appearing before the Senate in the days preceding the five-week Congressional recess that began July 26, I was told by many in the Capitol Hill loop that the odds were not favorable.

      Accordingly, the message that was repeated from Alan Krause's remarks in the opening keynote to Gary Hart's speech during the closing luncheon was consistent -- the hydropower industry must be proactive in promoting its many virtues in national discussions about renewable commodities.

      This is particularly significant given President Barack Obama's recently released Climate Action Plan, which emphasizes the importance of all forms of renewable power generation in decreasing the nation's carbon emissions.

      When coupled with federal legislation like H.R. 267 and H.R. 678 then, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say hydropower has never been poised to play a more significant role in America's energy mix than it is now.

      And even though the passage of H.R. 267 and 678 is a testament to years of diligence by more people I can even begin to name, it by no means marks the end of the proverbial journey.

      The message delivered time and time again at HydroVision still rings true, however -- that the hydropower industry must be proactive in promoting its many virtues in national discussions about renewable commodities.

      Now more than ever, the onus falls on the industry to ensure America's politicians, power generators, and energy users don't forget the role hydro power has played and continues to play.

      I am continually surprised by the number of educated consumers who have a rudimentary knowledge of solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and other forms of renewable generation, yet know little -- if anything -- about hydro power.

      Even amongst those familiar with hydro, the general perception seems to be that the vast majority of America's projects have more in common with Grand Coulee than not, and many are genuinely surprised in learning such isn't the reality.

      Also surprising to many is the revelation that much of the infrastructure needed for significant amounts of hydroelectric development already exists, and that, according to the National Hydropower Association, this unused infrastructure could eventually add a cumulative 60,000 MW of new capacity to the nation's grid.

      Add in the fact much of this infrastructure falls under areas affected by H.R. 678 and many plant proposals might qualify for expedited licensing under H.R. 267, and suddenly, I've found many people from outside the industry start asking the same question we working in it have been asking for years: Why isn't hydropower more of an emphasis?

      If I might make a humble suggestion then, it would be that the industry needs to be more like the jester.

      It isn't enough that legislation exists for hydroelectric development if the industry isn't doing its part to make decision makers aware of it, and now that America's politicians have set the table for a hydropower boom, I will reiterate once more -- the industry must be proactive in promoting its many virtues in national discussions about renewable commodities

      Coming back full-circle to the spandex-wearing gentleman in Larkspur, engaging the general public must become more of a priority lest the bills that sit on President Obama's desk be enacted for naught. 

      Diamond-print leggings and frilled-shirts are, of course, optional -- but for the good of the industry, the jester's enthusiasm for sharing cannot be.

      Elected officials support the hydropower industry at HydroVision International 2013

      July 31, 2013 1:47 PM by Elizabeth Ingram, Senior Editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      Although those who work in the hydroelectric industry on a daily basis clearly understand the benefits of this clean, renewable generating technology, it still isn’t getting its just deserts when it comes to legislation. One example is the production tax credits currently available for the development of new renewable electricity generating facilities. Why do wind, geothermal and closed-loop biomass plants get 2.3 cents per kWh while hydro gets only 1.1 cent per kWh? The legislation was originally enacted in 1992 and has been renewed and expanded numerous times. Even so, the January 2013 legislation did not increase the amount paid to hydropower.

      It is frustrating and hard to understand. Do our elected officials just not “get it” when it comes to hydropower? And why not?

      Several of the speakers at HydroVision International 2013 in Denver this month really helped me wrap my mind around what is going on politically with regard to hydropower. And they provided a huge call to action for the entire hydroelectric industry that I want to pass on to all of you who were not in attendance and reinforce to those who were there.

      Let’s start with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. He spoke to a packed house of HydroVision International 2013 attendees during the opening keynote session, and it was refreshing to hear that elected officials in the state of Colorado truly understand the value of hydropower and are eager to develop the untapped potential in the state. “Hydro is one of the cleanest, most cost-effective forms of electric generation that we have. And the technology is there to minimize the impacts,” he said.

      Referring to Colorado at the Headwaters State, Hickenlooper said more than a dozen rivers start in Colorado and feed water to 18 other states and the country of Mexico. He said the state had new conventional hydro generation of 1,600 GWh in 2010 but also focused on untapped energy potential of more than 700 GWh per year. Hickenlooper indicated Colorado has the second highest renewable standard in the country right now but said hydro should be 30% of the state’s total renewable energy package.

      Hickenlooper spoke about some of the many programs in the state designed to encourage hydro development, including the Colorado Energy Office’s small hydro permitting program and the Department of Agriculture’s Advancing Colorado’s Renewable Energy program. Despite these efforts, Hickenlooper indicated more work is needed. “Hydropower will require new forms of collaborative effort between state and local governments. [We need to find] more direct and efficient ways to overcome some of the red tape that has been there in the past. We really want to try and take some of the friction out of business, in other words, allow a more predictable environment so that people can go forward with projects more rapidly,” he said.

      In the end, Hickenlooper is bullish on hydropower, and that is great to hear. Building on a joke about the opposite of woe being “giddyup,” the Governor said, “In terms of infrastructure, we don’t have the luxury any more of dillydallying around. We’ve got to figure out ways to work better. Every time somebody says that’s impossible, I always just say, ‘Giddyup.’”

      Also during the opening keynote session, Kurt Johnson, president of the Colorado Small Hydro Association, read remarks provided by U.S. Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado. She is co-sponsor, along with Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State, of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013. This bill, which focuses on retrofitting existing infrastructure to generate new hydropower, was scored at “zero cost” by the Congressional Budget Office.

      DeGette says the bill will create jobs: With the National Hydropower Association estimate of 5.3 jobs created per megawatt of new hydro construction and the potential 200 MW of new development in Colorado alone, DeGette says hydro development would yield about 1,000 new jobs in the state.

      The bill is currently awaiting final passage on the Senate side, after unanimous approval by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Once the full Senate votes to pass the bill, it will be send to President Barack Obama to be signed into law. But, DeGette had a call to action to help get this passed: “So today, I’m asking all of you – who stand strong for the potential of hydropower in our nation – to reach out to your Senators and help us get this done.”

      Gary Hart, former U.S. Senator from Colorado, spoke during the closing luncheon and awards program at HydroVision International 2013, and he closed out the event with a strong call to action for the entire hydropower industry.

      With regard to how to call more attention to hydropower, he advocates speaking to fellow citizens for a start. “You have to educate people outside this room. If you were to go outside and stop 10 Coloradans, I would gauge that no more than one of them could discuss hydroelectricity with you in any meaningful way,” he said.

      To achieve this goal of educating the general populace on the value of hydroelectricity, Hart had several suggestions: “Write letters to your newspaper. Even better, write opinion pieces to your newspaper. Also, speak to local organizations [such as the Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club].” Hart stands behind what he says. On July 22, he wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times reacting to an editorial praising removal of the Veazie Dam on the Penobscot River in Maine. The letter reminds readers of this newspaper that hydropower “is a clean, renewable energy source and, over time, less expensive than solar or wind.”

      His final challenge was so well-put, I will convey it to you essentially word for word: “Finally, and this may be uncomfortable for you, call your elected officials and say you want to talk to them. [Include] Senators, members of Congress, maybe even state and city officials. Say ‘I want to take 20 minutes of your time to tell you about hydropower.’ We’ve got 80,000 dams in this country and 3% of them are producing energy. That’s got to change. And you can help make that change. Educate your elected officials. They need information from you, the citizens they represent. That’s the challenge I leave with you. If enough people do this in enough venues, you will be amazed at the degree to which the level of understanding of the business you are in will increase exponentially and you can help change public policy in this country and maybe other countries as well. We need clean, renewable energy. And that’s what hydropower is.”

      To me, the take-home message from these three speakers is crystal clear: Tell people about hydropower. Be advocates for this industry you love. Don’t stop until your message is out there and people, both citizens and elected officials, recognize the value hydroelectricity has to offer to our nation and our world. If enough people do this, the tidal change will be something to see.

      I have HydroVision on the brain this week, for good reason

      July 25, 2013 12:17 PM by Elizabeth Ingram, Senior Editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      One of the (many) fun things about being at HydroVision International 2013 in Denver, Colorado, this week is that there is no shortage of topics to blog about. When I started thinking about what I was going to say in this week’s blog, there were so many different things I could talk about, it seemed impossible to narrow it down to just one.

      If you are AT HydroVision International, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, I encourage you to give serious thought to attending this event in 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. And I’m not just saying this to increase attendance! As the world’s largest event for the hydroelectric power industry, HydroVision International is a great place to take the pulse of the industry, to get continuing education on the hottest topic, to network with colleagues, and to just have fun.

      So, what am I going to talk about? A whole bunch of great things I’ve seen and done at the event so far.

      First, I love the chance meetings with old hydro industry friends (and new ones) that happen just because we’ve all come to the same city at about the same time for the same event. I’ve seen people who shared a shuttle from the airport and didn’t know each other before the ride into Denver but now are running into each other at HydroVision International and talking like old friends. And I’ve chanced across people I’ve known for years just walking through my hotel lobby or traversing the one-block stretch from my hotel to the convention center. You go into a restaurant for dinner with one group of friends and run into many more people you know. This camaraderie really makes the event more personal and just plain fun.

      Second, it’s great to see the myriad of activities going on all around the Colorado Convention Center. Although technically HydroVision International does not kick off until the opening keynote session on Tuesday afternoon, we have a plethora of what we call co-located activities that take place on Monday and Tuesday. These include association, organization and company meetings; seminars and workshops; technical tours of hydroelectric plants and facilities; the Waterpower Hydro Basics Course; a golf tournament; and more. In addition, the exhibitors are hard at work setting up their booths in anticipation of the exhibit hall opening, immediately after the keynote session. Things are going on everywhere, all the time.

      Third, I went on a really great full-day technical tour of three small hydroelectric plants on Monday. Although there were glitches (having to sit on the grass under a tree in the park to eat lunch comes to mind), the amazing scenery surrounding these three facilities completely made up for it. In addition, the plants themselves were fascinating and really reflected the vibrancy of small hydropower in the state of Colorado:

      • The one-year-old Robert V. Trout (Carter Lake) plant, developed at a Bureau of Reclamation facility under the Lease of Power Privilege;
      • The one-hundred-plus-year-old Boulder Canyon plant, with its fabulous old powerhouse equipped with a modern new turbine-generator unit; and
      • The five-year-old Gross plant, built at the foot of a massive dam to extract power from water being delivered to downstream users.

      Fourth, there was the excitement and anticipation of having Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper speaking during the opening keynote session. You never “really” believe these things are going to happen until you see it with your own eyes (i.e., the Govenor walking into the convention center with his staff). And since I’m one of those people who feels there’s no need to put off worrying until tomorrow if you can worry today, you can imagine I had a bit of anxiety leading up to the keynote. But, the Governor came through and he gave a great speech. It was a proud moment for me, to see a high-level elected official throw his support behind this industry and recognize its value.

      Fifth, this event just provides a great opportunity for everybody to achieve their objectives. For me, in my role as senior editor of Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide magazines, there couldn’t be a better place to hear about all the great technological advances, practical applications of established technology, and problems solved and lessons learned at hydro plants. This is a rich “hunting grounds” for me in my quest to provide useful, practical information that helps our readers do their jobs better. For other attendees, HydroVision International was an opportunity to meet with potential product and service providers, hear an expert speak on a topic of particular interest to them, and maybe even conduct important business best handled face to face.

      I could go on and on (and have been known to), but I’ll stop now. If you attended HydroVision International, tell me how the event worked for you. What were the highlights of this week? Did you achieve your objectives? Did you meet new friends and reconnect with old ones? I’d love to hear the success stories. And, in the spirit of continuous improvement, I’d also like to hear your suggestions for next year. What could we be doing in Nashville that would make HydroVision International even better or assist you in achieving what you set out to accomplish? You can comment on this blog or email me at elizabethi@pennwell.com.

      Where melting pot meets mega watt

      July 17, 2013 10:49 AM by Bethany Duarte, Associate Editor, Hydro Review Magazine

      Can you believe it? It’s almost here!

      We are a little less than a week away from HydroVision International and our staff is basically eating, drinking, sleeping, and dreaming HydroVision.

      As a HydroVision rookie, I am very excited about the event and all there will be to see and do. I have a running list of things I want to be sure to ‘take in,’ observe, enjoy, and later write about to share with all of you who were there with me and those who were unable to attend.

      One aspect of the event that I am excited about speaks to my inner history nerd. You see, history was my thing in school. I loved studying and explaining how cultures came to be and how different events such as wars and famines caused groups of people to be uprooted and moved. The diaspora that followed such an event always fascinated me, as did the melting pot effect that resulted when those groups of people resettled in a new place.

      As a student of American history in particular, I became very familiar with the term “melting pot” from a very young age. I even used it to explain why a Portuguese girl like me was living in a region full of Native American heritage in northeastern Oklahoma. This characteristic is part of what makes the United States a great country. It’s the string that ties all of the diverse cultures and ethnicities in the US into the common goals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      After looking at the demographics of HydroVision International this week, I have to say that the same effect is also what makes HydroVision International such a great event.

      Amazingly, delegates from every corner of the world and each continent will be present in Denver, Colorado this year, making it a truly global event of attendees with the common goals of networking, knowledge and the pursuit of mega watts.

      Despite its location in North America, this event is drawing attendees from as far as Australia and Iceland, to as close as Canada. The European contingent includes attendees from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Portugal, while attendees from Asia are coming from Singapore, India, Thailand, Nepal, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Iraq, Russia, and the Czech Republic, among others.

      Attendance from South American and Central American countries is highly indicative of the current growth of the hydro market in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and others. There is also a strong presence from the Africa continent, including attendees from Lesotho, South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

      These figures tell me two things. First, that the name “HydroVision International” is an incredibly accurate moniker. Yes, the HydroVision event series includes HydroVision Russia, India, and Brasil, but HydroVision International is where these events come together. Secondly, HydroVision is it’s own melting pot of cultures, diverse perspectives, and unique histories which all come together each July to look ahead to the future of hydropower on a global scale.

      See you all soon!

      Are you excited for HydroVision yet?

      July 11, 2013 10:55 AM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      Much to the chagrin of my girlfriend, the date of our anniversary is often one that escapes me.

      I imagine this might be slightly more palatable to her, however, if the date my beloved alma mater, Oklahoma State, defeated Stanford to claim the 2012 Fiesta Bowl trophy -- wasn't a date I could recall without hesitation.

      And even though these days I can probably recite Hoover Dam's average annual net generation just as readily as I can Stan Musial's lifetime batting average (4.2 billion kWh and .331 for those playing along at home), point is, athletics have always been one of my greater passions.

      Whether my pre-HydroWorld.com life in sports writing caused it or not then, I've always had a habit of marking seasons not so much in terms of weather or month, but rather, by which sports were being played.

      This time of year is particularly dreaded by the sports media being that the NBA and NHL have both recently completed their championship finals, and save a few major tennis and golf tournaments, there is little to break the mid-July doldrums besides the MLB All-Star Game.

      Now tasked with writing much of the daily content for this website, I couldn't help but draw a comparison given that hydroelectric power news has been, quite honestly, a bit hard to come by these past few weeks.

      Even in the dog days of the summer sporting world, however, there is always a strong sense of anticipation simmering only slightly below the surface as NFL teams are only weeks away from reporting to training camp and preseason football polls mean fight songs will be blaring on college campuses before we know it.

      It's not entirely dissimilar to the anticipation I'm feeling now that HydroVision International 2013 is less than two weeks away, and though I might be lying if I were to say I'm as giddy about our impending trip to Denver as I am the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, there's a lot of reasons to be excited.

      Though day-to-day news might be slow as of late, it's still an extraordinarily interesting time for the hydropower both in the United States and abroad, and I think we as an industry have much to look forward to in the coming months.

      I'm personally particularly interested in HydroVision International's Policies and Regulations track given the emphasis the current administration has put on domestic climate change and renewable energy development.

      And though I envy those who will spend Tuesday morning of the event playing the Arrowhead Golf Club, I'm just as thrilled to have the opportunity to tour the Bureau of Reclamation's Technical Service Center to better understand the science behind hydro project design and operation.

      Given that this year's HydroVision International features more than 70 program sessions, four technical tours, a half-dozen co-located events and hundreds of exhibitors, we at HydroWorld.com, and Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide magazines hope you're just as excited as we are.

      We think this year's conference and exposition has a lot to offer everyone in the industry, and we're eager to hear what our friends are looking forward to most, what your companies are bringing to Denver, and what you learn in the discussions you attend.

      You might have noticed that we've added a Twitter feed on the right side of the HydroWorld.com home page that automatically fills itself with Tweets using the #HydroVisionIntl hashtag, so we encourage you to start using it to let your colleagues know what you're up to both before and during the event.

      We've also released an update for our free Apple iOS and Android mobile application that adds a lot of functionality designed exclusively for HydroVision International 2013. It's available by tapping the new "HVI" box in the top right of the Hydro Review app.

      This section includes an interactive floorplan, a detailed listing for every HydroVision exhibitor, full information about every conference session and more that make it a handy tool to help navigate the Colorado Convention Center.

      So again, in these last days before HydroVision International 2013 gets under way, we encourage you to use #HydroVisionIntl, take a look at the mobile app, and, most of all, get as excited about it as we are.

      Colorado has got it going on when it comes to hydro

      July 2, 2013 3:15 PM by Elizabeth Ingram, senior editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      I don’t know what it is about the state of Colorado right now, but it seems every time I turn around I see news about the state and its support of or ties to hydropower.

      The most recent is the announcement just days ago that President Obama nominated Colorado consultant and former utility regulator Ronald J. Binz to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, with the intention to name him chairman once he is confirmed by the Senate. Binz would be succeeding FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, who submitted his resignation to the president in May.

      Binz is a Democrat who has been principal of Public Policy Consulting since resigning from his position as chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in 2011. He is known to be a proponent of renewable energy, and his energy consultancy work has focused on climate, clean technology, integrated resource planning and smart grids.

      In another Colorado story, in late May, the Colorado Department of Agriculture announced it was working to create a “small hydropower roadmap” for the state’s agriculture through its Advancing Colorado’s Renewable Energy program. CDA will focus ACRE resources in a few key areas in 2013, one of these being small hydropower, says Eric Lane, director of CDA’s Conservation Services Division.

      To this end, work is already under way to “collect, aggregate and analyze market research data on the opportunities, costs, benefits and other barriers to the application and deployment of small hydropower technologies in agricultural operations throughout the state,” CDA says. Once a final report and recommendations are available by the end of this year, CDA can better focus ACRE resources on development of small hydro projects.

      In light of the two above developments, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that it is with incredible foresight (not luck!) that PennWell chose Denver, Colo., to be the location for HydroVision International 2013. Less than three short weeks away(!), this event is drawing more than just interested attendees to Denver.

      As I mentioned more fully in a previous blog, we’ve got some great high-level political figures scheduled to speak at HydroVision International. And they all have ties with Colorado!

      -- Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will be speaking during the opening keynote session on Wednesday, July 24;

      -- U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) will be presenting a video address during the opening keynote as well; and

      -- Gary Hart, former U.S. Senator from Colorado and two-time presidential hopeful, is speaking during the closing awards luncheon on Friday, July 26.

      In addition, the Colorado Small Hydro Association is co-locating its annual conference with HydroVision International. This event is being held on Tuesday, and attendees get access to the opening keynote session and the exhibit hall that day. COSHA conference attendees also can upgrade to attend the entire HydroVision International event.

      What is it about Colorado that makes it such a hotbed of activity with regard to hydropower right now? I know the state has been a long-time hydro proponent, so this isn’t a NEW thing, but it sure seems to be growing every day. Don’t you wish you could bottle that enthusiasm and get-‘er-done attitude and take it back to your state? Maybe you can! And attending HydroVision International 2013 may be the first step in making that happen.

      Thoughts on Obama's Climate Change memorandum

      June 26, 2013 2:49 PM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      It's apparent that President Barack Obama's new climate change plan could potentially have a significant and lasting impact on renewable energy production, but exactly what that means for the hydropower industry is about as clear as silt.

      The President's Climate Action Plan, unveiled yesterday at Georgetown University, is an executive directive designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at America's new and existing power plants.

      The landmark proposal builds on Obama's 2009 commitment to reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, though the United States -- unlike a growing number of other countries -- has yet to adopt a federally mandated standard for power plant carbon pollution.

      And though reducing emissions at fossil-fueled plants is clearly the largest focus of the plan, the memorandum notes that augmenting or replacing those sources with renewable ones will be an important part of achieving that goal.

      The crux in any discussion of "renewable" as it pertains to matters of energy policy, however, is whether hydropower is included in that definition or not.

      Fortunately in this instance, hydroelectricity is -- though how it figures into the plan isn't entirely clear.

      So, just a few initial reactions to Obama's memorandum, which is available via the White House here:                                                                                                       

      1. Though the document includes sections titled "Promoting American Leadership in Renewable Energy" and "Unlocking Long-Term Investment in Clean Energy Innovation", the plan seems more concerned with capping emissions from existing and new fossil fuel plants than pushing an all-out transition to green sources. To be sure, they're baby steps in the right direction, but I can't help but think there could have been more of an emphasis on cultivating newer, cleaner resources rather than slapping some regulations on the polluting fleet we already have.
      2. Hydropower is included in the plan, though it seems to take a backseat to solar, wind and geothermal sources. And though I know a variety of energy sources are necessary in maintaining a modern, stable grid, it seems curious to me that a commodity so proven and relatively cheap as hydroelectric power wouldn't be front and center in any discussion about renewable development.
      3. The memorandum's one concrete mention of hydropower -- that is, encouraging the development of hydroelectric power at existing dams -- hits the proverbial nail on the head and seems like a complete no-brainer. Whether many of the pieces of legislation currently making their way through the Senate are a reflection of that realization or vice-versa, point is that there are thousands of existing, unutilized infrastructure points on federal lands that could be converted to produce hydroelectricity.
      4. It's interesting to me that the document mentions a Department of Defense (which is, according to the memorandum, the largest consumer of energy in the U.S.) plan to deploy 3 GW of renewable energy on military installations by 2025. Though this plan includes solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources, it omits hydro. My assumption is that as forms of distributed generation, they're more conducive to localized use than hydropower -- but still. I'm surprised there's no opportunities for Department of Defense hydropower usage somewhere.

      The memorandum's reception around the industry seems to be generally positive, as it should be. After all, the mere fact that hydropower is being included amongst other renewables should be considered a victory for the industry.

      But as always, I'm interested to hear what others think. So, what do you think?

      Giving honor where it is due

      June 19, 2013 8:14 AM by Bethany Duarte

      As all of us in the Hydro Group gear up for HydroVision International (a little than a month to go!), I am personally looking forwarding to attending for the very first time.

      Yes, I’m a HydroVision rookie!

      I’ve learned so much about the event from behind the scenes over the last 11 months, and am excited for all of you to see what we have put together for you this year. The technical paper and panel presentations are top notch, as are the plant tours, one of which I’m happy to go on with you!

      There is so much to see and do at HydroVision with all of the co-located events and networking opportunities, but one feature I wanted to highlight that I love about our event is the Wall of Honor.

      For those who have not yet seen it, the Wall of Honor is a traveling memorial that honors our nation’s prized veterans in the energy industry at each of PennWell’s energy events. The Wall stands as an ever-growing tribute to our wonderful servicemen and women, regardless of branch, current duty, or rank. The Wall displays the name, branch, and company of each individual honored.

      As the granddaughter of two Korean war veterans, and a lifelong student of American military history, this memorial hits a soft spot in me, as it does for so many in the United States and the electric power industry.

      As I’ve traveled and met with so many of you, I’ve noticed the intense brother and sisterhood of the hydropower industry, and the strong connection between you all. Seeing the number of hydro professionals that have served our country and defended our freedom cements that bond even more so.

      In my studies of military history, an important common denominator tying soldiers together across lines of rank and branch is the intense bond of loyalty and sacrifice that characterizes a member of the United States military. This bond saved many a life on the battlefield and front lines of war, and makes these vets the high quality employees that now fill the ranks of the hydro industry and larger electric power industry.

      That is a characteristic that we at PennWell and HydroVision International feel should be honored. Not only is our own CEO, Robert Biolchini, a Vietnam-era vet, Senior Vice President Richard Baker of our Power Group has a son who served two tours of duty for the United States Air Force in Iraq. Our ties to the military are strong and something we feel is important to celebrate and remember.

      The Wall of Honor first debuted as a way to honor and pay tribute to these amazing men and women in December 2011 at PennWell’s POWER-GEN International event in Las Vegas with nominations submitted online by vets and their family members throughout the United States. The Wall will be shown at HydroVision International with even more names and soldiers to honor and remember for their sacrifice.

      While the nominating process has ended for this year’s HydroVision International, nominations are still open for POWER-GEN International in November 2013 at http://www.power-gen.com/wall-of-honor.html.

      Please be sure to come by and see the Wall in Denver and pay tribute to your fellow Americans and industry members for their valiant and loyal service to our country.

      Pastrami on Rye and the Oklahoma City Thunder

      June 11, 2013 2:59 PM by Bethany Duarte, Associate Editor, Hydro Review Magazine

      As an editor, I have the privilege of traveling all over North America attending tradeshows, conferences, symposiums and summits, meeting many of you in the process. We talk hydropower, HydroVision, industry news, and if it’s raining, how good of a day it is for the industry.

      As a small town girl from Oklahoma however, it’s like taking a mini-vacation once a month. I try to take advantage of my business travel and take in the sights, sounds, tastes, and culture of the places I visit.

      Something special happens when you ask a native dweller of a city or state what they are most proud of or what I should be sure to experience while I’m there. They come alive! I love seeing the pride blossom on their face. From food recommendations to tourist attractions to hole-in-the-wall gems that make their city unique, I’ve heard it all.

      This native Okie enjoys every minute of it.

      And I can relate to the sense of pride whenever that same person asks about my home state, my beloved Oklahoma. Of course, they first ask about tornadoes, Indians (“No, we don’t live in teepees anymore”), country music, and if I’ve met Garth Brooks (I’ve actually sang next to him at church). But then I get to talk about our rich Native American history, fantastic farm-raised meat and produce, Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder, and most of all, our compassionate, resilient, and friendly people.

      One topic I always enjoy discussing when I travel is, of course, hydropower. The question of what I do that allows me to travel usually comes up, and when I mention hydropower, the reaction is quite diverse.

      In Ottawa or Niagara Falls, people nod and smile. Hydropower is a common term and an industry that is supported. One lady in an Ottawa boutique responded with, “And we definitely love hydropower here.”

      When in Phoenix, the word “hydropower” connected immediately to “Hoover Dam,” due to the regional proximity of the well known dam and hydropower plant.

      The question came up last week while I was in New York City attending the National Hydropower Association’s Hydropower Finance Summit. I ventured out to the World Trade Center Memorial and engaged in a conversation with two of the security guards as I was leaving. In between their recommendations on dinner locations and the best pizza in all the burroughs, they asked what brought me to New York. When I responded, I received a reaction that both excited me and saddened me.

      “What’s hydropower?”

      As an editor of two hydropower-focused publications, I’m used to speaking about hydropower with others who understand it even better than I do. But what I’ve come to realize through my travels is that the response I received in New York is not at all uncommon. Growing up in oil and natural gas-rich Oklahoma, I myself did not have an understanding of hydropower until I joined the industry as an adult.

      So the question I pose is this: what are we doing as an industry to show our pride in hydropower?

      In the same way that those New Yorkers were quick to tell me the best spot for pastrami on rye and the most scenic places to stop and take pictures, how quick are we as an industry to share about hydropower, this energy source that we are so passionate about, to those outside the industry?

      In the business-to-business media industry, we focus on just that, communicating to those already in the industry. So targeting anyone outside of that realm is just not within the scope of my work.

      However, when I told these two security guards from Brooklyn and Queens about the benefits of hydropower, they were beyond curious, they were engaged. Those men had a say in which senators voted on the hydropower bills that are on their way to the President’s desk. Those men have a say on the state and local energy matters that come up on ballots occasionally. However indirectly, those men have a say in hydropower.

      This and other instances like it lead me to think that we as an industry need to be talking about hydropower the same way New Yorkers do about the Yankees and pastrami on rye and the way Oklahomans do about our rich Native American culture, chicken fried steak and the Oklahoma City Thunder – as a point of pride in our industry and in our renewable energy future.

      This is quite a task, but I would love to hear what you all are thinking about it. Is it time to stretch out a bit and widen our message?

      They Love Us, They Love Us Not

      June 4, 2013 2:36 PM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      I had a reporting professor during my first semester as a journalism major who, in an effort to teach a class of aspiring 18-year old Joseph Pulitzers not to take everything at face value, was fond of starting the year with a lecture he'd titled, "Your Mother Says She Loves You, But How Do You Really Know?"

      For a generation of would-be journalists whose concepts of reporting are based more on the practices of Perez Hilton than Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the question seemed -- and still seems -- entirely asinine, but even for those not of Generation X, supplying a definitive answer might prove more difficult than it appears.

      The immediate (and common) gut reaction was that our mothers love us because they tell us they love us, to which we were asked, "Yes, but how do you really know your mothers are telling the truth?"

      The answer was, invariably, that we just knew, and again we were asked, "But are you sure?"

      Granted, the exercise wasn't intended to foster feelings of mother/child insecurity, but rather, to demonstrate that simplicity in even the most basic of questions and statements almost always belies a need for tangible, empirical supporting evidence.

      It was perhaps inevitable then that I immediately thought of this lecture when American Municipal Power President and CEO Marc Gerken emphatically told me "I love hydro" during the National Hydropower Association Annual Conference in April.

      Gerken, now president of the NHA, said his affection for hydro power comes not only for his company's need to provide energy for its customers, but also due to its non-existent fuel costs and lack of a waste stream.

      "This is a great asset because as a CEO, you have headaches with carbon, you have headaches with fuel, you have headaches with environmental permitting," Gerken said.

      Speaking purely in terms as a member of the cynical media then, I’d say that Gerken’s remarks -- though nice -- are nothing without substance, and certainly, Gerken is making sure AMP is doing its part to give credence to his words.

      The utility currently generates 16% of its power through hydroelectricity, and that percentage will continue to increase.

      "It's not state-mandated," Gerken said. "We just feel it’s the right thing to do."

      The attitude is not one held exclusively by AMP, and I’ve written at length about the many pieces of legislature currently making their way through the United States Congress that would further improve opportunities for hydroelectric development.

      Luckily for the industry, however, is that the international community is taking -- or perhaps more accurately, retaking -- note of hydro power and its role in energy production, water supply and flood control.

      Nowhere was this more evident than at the International Hydropower Association’s World Congress this past month where the World Bank announced the reversal of its two-decade long practice of shunning large hydro project investments.

      Though the bank had continued to finance smaller projects through the years, large projects like Africa’s 4,000-GW Grand Inga would have almost certainly been snubbed as they didn’t fit the bank’s development goals.

      Now, however, the World Bank says all hydropower plants are an essential means of providing power, building industry, providing potable water, encouraging agriculture and decreasing carbon emissions -- particularly in the world’s most impoverished of nations, where hydroelectric projects provide an economical means of supplying all those ends.

      So, given the emphasis I’ve made on putting one's money where their mouths are, the World Bank is doing that in literal terms with more than US$1 billion invested in large hydropower projects alone since revising its investment strategies in the early 2000s.

      And just as AMP is not the only utility showing its love for hydro power, neither is the World Bank the only global lending institution showing its love for hydro power.

      Just what this "love" ultimately means for the hydropower industry still remains to be seen, but at the very least, the answer to "How do you know?" is perhaps becoming a bit clearer.

      A public safety lesson learned in person

      May 28, 2013 8:47 AM by Elizabeth Ingram, senior editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      PennWell is headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., and many of us watched the news and weather with trepidation as the tornado hit Oklahoma City on Monday, May 20. Oklahoma City is about 100 miles west and slightly south of Tulsa, and the storm was headed northeast. We in Tulsa were extremely lucky that the system that spawned this tornado, which was 1.3 miles wide and had estimated peak winds of 200 to 210 miles per hour, passed to the north of our city.

      At least 24 people were killed during the tornado, and about 2,400 homes were damaged in the cities of Moore and Oklahoma City. About 10,000 people were directly impacted by the tornado, with 237 injured, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Insurance claims are likely to top $1 billion, says the Oklahoma Insurance Commission.

      I happened to be working from home that day and heard the tornado sirens go off three times, each incident making me contemplate heading to the closest thing we have to a safe room: our bathroom. Our house, like most others in the area, does not have a basement.

      In fact, for many communities in Oklahoma, the local schools are considered the safe shelters. So, I’m sure it made sense for the parents whose children were in school to leave them there, in what they thought was security. I completely understand this sentiment, as I have two school-age children and I remember being grateful they were “safe” at school while I was listening to the sirens. (I later learned a tornado had passed 4 miles north of my house.)

      Unfortunately, this security was not what it seemed. Seven of the nine children killed were at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., when the storm hit. By comparison, all the students at Briarwood Elementary School survived. Why? Basically it comes down to the school’s construction. Essentially just a matter of better architectural design with regard to tornado survival. Each group of classrooms at Briarwood Elementary, organized into pods, had an opening to the outside and teachers were able to crawl through that open area and pass children over the rubble. Plaza Towers Elementary had a more traditional design of a long line of classrooms under a single roof. The roof and walls piled on top of each other during the collapse, trapping people inside. Purportedly Plaza Towers Elementary had a basement, and several of the children were reported to have drowned after being trapped.

      Neither of these two schools had a safe room, which are designed to sustain winds up to 250 mph.

      Natural disasters happen. That’s simply a fact of life, and all the preparation in the world cannot avert them. All we can do is try our best not to become a casualty.

      Luckily, for the hydropower industry, there are plenty of things dam owners are doing to ensure the safety of people living near dams. We recognize the importance of these efforts on Friday, May 31, when we celebrate National Dam Safety Awareness Day. This day was established in 1999 to commemorate the devastation that occurred on May 31, 1889, when the South Fork Dam in Johnstown, Pa., failed. By contrast with the Oklahoma City tornado, this dam failure resulted in the deaths of 2,209 people and left thousands homeless. It remains the worst dam failure in U.S. history. And that’s good news. It means the improvement of dam safety programs has dramatically reduced the loss of life from dam failures. However, ongoing attention and investment are necessary to protect lives and property and to preserve the valuable benefits that dams provide.

      On this day, the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, Federal Emergency Management Agency and state dam safety programs encourage the public to learn about the benefits of dams and the risks associated with potential dam incidents and failures. Education is vital. People who know and understand the risks are more likely to react appropriately and responsibly during natural disasters. So I think I will have to come up with a little better plan than running to the bathroom before the next tornado scare.

      What are you doing to educate the public and get the word out about your efforts and the public’s role in dam safety? Tell us about any special programs you have in place, how they are working, and what more you plan to do in the future. If there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that you can never be too prepared.

      I'm feeling a little more politically savvy these days

      May 20, 2013 4:52 PM by Elizabeth Ingram, senior editor, Hydro Review and HRW-Hydro Review Worldwide

      Let me start out by saying that I am not a political animal. At all. I am less than fully versed in the many aspects of our political system and the political process. And I am OK with that. It is a choice I make/made. I had/have opportunities to get more educated on this topic.

      I also, as a rule, do not enjoy discussing politics. I care very little about an individual person’s political views. When I see a friend making a post on Facebook that is clearly intended to rile up people who don’t think the same way politically, I calmly keep on scrolling. No response necessary.

      I say all of this so you can better understand me and also to help set the stage for the exciting news that is about to come: We have three high-level political figures slated to speak at HydroVision International 2013 in Denver, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

      In fact, at this year’s HydroVision International, which is being held the week of July 22 in Denver, Colorado, U.S., our speakers include a state governor, a U.S. representative and a former U.S. Senator (and presidential hopeful). Even I, a non-follower when it comes to politics, am excited about this situation. Let me tell you more.

      Let’s start with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who will be speaking during the opening keynote session on Wednesday, July 24. Hickenlooper calls himself a recovering geologist who once owned a brewpub and was goaded into running for mayor of Denver in 2003. From there, he became governor of Colorado, in 2011, where he and his team are working to promote an all-of-the-above energy policy. I am excited to hear what Hickenlooper has to say to this unique audience at HydroVision International.

      Next up is U.S. Representative Diana DeGette, whose name many of you will recognize as the co-sponsor of The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, along with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. DeGette cannot leave Washington, D.C., because of her legislative calendar, so she will be presenting a video address during the opening keynote session at HydroVision International. This particularly thrills me, as it proves that legislators in Washington, D.C., are optimistic about hydropower and its future in the U.S. energy mix! They want to come talk to you as the people who keep this industry moving forward every day.

      And the third speaker I alluded to earlier is Gary Hart. Now, whether or not you recognize this name depends almost entirely on your age, but also a bit on your familiarity with American history. Hart is a former U.S. Senator from Colorado and was a presidential hopeful in 1984 and 1988 before a little “monkey business” derailed that aspiration. Hart is now a consultant, author and speaker. His most recent book is a fictionalized account of the controversy surrounding development of the Animas-La Plata water project in Colorado. Hart will be speaking during the closing awards luncheon on Friday, July 26, so make sure you don’t fly home too early that day!

      In the process of identifying and inviting these speakers, I became a bit more politically savvy. Admittedly, there is still much I do not know. But this I do know: These three speakers -- along with more than 400 other expert panelists and presenters -- are going to make this year’s HydroVision International one to remember.

      But, we never rest on our laurels. We’re already thinking about ways to make the 2014 event bigger and better. You can do your part in 2013 by registering to attend this important industry event at www.hydroevent.com. And if you have ideas of speakers we should invite or topics we should cover, or even a fun networking opportunity or technical tour for 2014, let me know in the comment box below. Nobody knows better than you what you want to see in a hydropower industry event, and we want to make this event work for you!


      Comments from the peanut gallery

      May 7, 2013 10:55 AM by Bethany Duarte, Associate Editor, Hydro Review and HRW

      I have always maintained a front row seat in the peanut gallery. From a very young age, I had the gift of inserting unique perspectives at opportune (and sometimes, inopportune) moments.

      After attending a number of hydropower meetings and conferences, I have found myself taking a seat in each and every presentation regarding the importance of the next generation of hydro professionals, as well as the panels discussing how to go about pulling them into hydro as students.

      As is my status quo, I feel compelled to add the perspective of a young professional to the dialogue.

      When U.S. Senator Ron Wyden exclaimed that “hydro is back. WAY back,” in Washington DC in front of 500 hydropower industry professionals, the excitement and anticipation in the room was as real and tangible as the voice recorder I was holding. No flashing lights, pounding music, pulsing lasers, or live production was needed to grab the audience’s attention. Senator Wyden  inspired, energized, and bolstered the spirits of an industry more than ready to have it’s day in the renewable energy spotlight with those simple, yet powerful five words.

      As I listened to Senator Wyden, a voice popped into my head, quietly reminding that there is another side to this coin.

      With great power comes great responsibility.

      Whether you attribute the quote to Uncle Ben or Voltaire, the truth remains. To whom much is given, even more is required.

      As we all anxiously await the day that the President picks up his pen in support of clean, renewable, hydroelectric power, I would like to pose the question: how are we to embrace the bright future we are fighting for in Congress while saying goodbye to 50% of our skilled workforce over the next several years? How do we staff our plants with the best of the best, when they are leaving behind their hard hats and replacing them with fishing rods? How do we ensure that the future of the industry, the people, will be there when called upon?

      From my perspective, the answer lies in the reason Senator Wyden’s address lit a fire in many an audience member’s heart and mind.

      Passion. Enthusiasm. Communication.

      It is the passion and enthusiasm I felt in that room at the National Hydropower Association’s Annual Conference that made me fall in love with hydropower. And there are thousands more young professionals waiting to feel that same spark.

      There are obviously many factors and dynamics involved in training and commissioning a skilled plant technician or operator. I would venture to say, however, that the spark of that process is the passion for the industry communicated by those about to leave it behind.

      If we are to ensure the future of this industry, that same passion and enthusiasm are going to be crucial components in drawing the next generation into hydropower.

      From conversations I’ve had with the next generation of hydro professionals, the industry is an exciting one, but one that has been on the outskirts of common knowledge. If we are going to propel this industry into the next century, hydropower MUST leave the shoreline and jump into the mainstream.

      The voice of hydro needs to extend beyond our annual meetings and quarterly retreats. While your communications team and public relations staff are highly skilled at communication, they cannot recreate the excitement that you feel talking about your vocation. Your voice is valuable, and more important than you know. Get into the schools! Brush up on your social media skills and create a presence in an arena saturated with young, inquiring minds. Set up visits to local colleges, buy a college kid a sandwich, and share your passion for hydropower. Be infectious. Be enthusiastic.

      I am not a masked superhero, or a plant manager; I am simply a young person and a member of the generation that is the future of this industry. Young professionals just like me are waiting on the sidelines, searching anxiously for that job that will be more than a daily chore, but a cause to put our knowledge, heart, and soul behind. An industry that we can sink our teeth into. A cause that we know is making the world a better place.

      At the risk of sounding cliché, the future of hydropower is now. The bills currently moving through the legislative process are just the tip of the iceberg of potential to be seen in this industry. Now is the time to recruit the team that will transform potential to reality.

      Chicken Soup for the Hydropower Soul

      April 29, 2013 2:49 PM by Michael Harris, Online Editor, HydroWorld.com

      Those who remember NBC's Saturday Night Live of the early 1990s undoubtedly recall Al Franken, who, after serving as both a cast member and writer for the show, has since become a New York Times best-selling author, a talk show host, and, most recently, a United States Senator from Minnesota.

      And though Franken indeed looked (and acted) every bit a senator in his pinstripe suit and freshly polished wingtips as he slid quietly into the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee chamber this past week, it was still a surreal moment for me as he casually took his seat and began mulling over several pieces of legislation that could each have significant impacts on the future of the American hydropower industry.

      Try as I might, it was hard not to imagine Franken reprising what might be his best remembered role -- the endearingly aloof, well-coiffed, cardigan-wearing host of Saturday Night Live's recurring "Daily Affirmation With Stuart Smalley" sketches -- as he sat in front of me.

      But as I listened to the support offered for the Hydropower Improvement Act, Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development Act and Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act by both Franken and others on the Senate Energy Committee, I began to realize just how relevant Stuart Smalley's trademark phrase has become for domestic hydroelectric development in recent months.

      "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me," Smalley would say, and even though Sen. Ron Wyden perhaps captured the sentiment more concisely by emphatically telling the Senate Energy Committee that "hydro is back", Smalley's line still rings true.

      As luck would have it, the committee's hearing on the package of hydroelectric bills coincided squarely with the National Hydropower Association's Annual Conference -- also held in Washington, D.C. -- making it possible to get an immediate pulse from some of the industry's proverbial "big dogs" who have, undoubtedly, been following the legislation just as closely I have.

      Now, to say that the NHA and its members are already planning a victory party would be ignoring the fact that there is still much work to be done before the bills are placed on President Obama's desk.

      The sense of optimism shared by both those in attendance at the NHA conference and the politicians who have advocated for the legislation on Capitol Hill was palpable, however, and frankly, refreshingly contrary to the general mood I perceived in Washington just 12 months prior.

      The subdued tone last year seemed to be one fueled by the uncertainty of election year politics, and the way previous incarnations of these hydropower bills died in the hands of the 112th Congress reflect that assertion.

      At the very least then, Obama's reelection allows for some philosophical continuity -- a matter of importance to the industry as the President's "all-of-the-above" plan includes hydropower as a means of bolstering America's renewable portfolio.

      Granted, those familiar with the all-of-the-above plan know the emphasis has largely been on developing solar, wind and geothermal technologies, often treating hydroelectricity -- to quote Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle -- like "the ugly stepsister".

      The discussions and testimony I heard while in Washington make it clear, however, that hydroelectricity is now very much on the minds of America's policy makers given its practicality, reliability, and, perhaps most important, affordability -- changing hydropower from an also-ran to a primary consideration.

      "The fact that four of the first five energy bills considered by the committee this year promote hydropower shows how important this resource can be to a clean energy future," Wyden told the Senate committee.

      That support isn't coming exclusively from one party or one interest group is also significant, and it only reinforces the notion that those outside the industry are taking strong note of hydropower's many virtues.

      "You have legislative gridlock for as far as the eye can see -- except for hydro," Wyden said. "It seems to me that what hydro has done in the last few years is to become the gold standard in terms of collaboration and showing how you can bring people together."

      As I mentioned earlier, work must still be done within the Senate before any of the bills discussed last week go before President Obama for enactment.

      That said, it's truly an exciting time for hydropower and I look forward to seeing how each of these acts progresses during the current congressional session.

      In the meantime though, maybe those in industry should just take a moment to channel their inner Stuart Smalley by putting on their favorite pastel sweater, looking reassuringly into the mirror, and reminding themselves that, "Hydro is good enough, hydro is smart enough, and doggone it, people like us."

      When is the last time you saw this much legislation favorable to hydro?

      April 22, 2013 3:09 PM by Elizabeth Ingram, Senior Editor, Hydro Review and HRW

      I am so excited for the U.S. hydropower industry right now!

      There is so much legislation being considered to bolster this industry, it’s a great time to be following the news … and writing about it.

      Where do I start?

      On April 10, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills designed to improve conditions for American hydroelectric power development. The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (House Resolution 678) passed with a 416-7 vote. The Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act (H.R. 254) passed with a vote of 400-4.

      Just three weeks earlier, on March 20, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed H.R. 678. This legislation is intended to improve conditions for hydroelectric project development in the U.S. by cutting red tape and simplifying the permitting process for some projects. H.R. 254 would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to facilitate the development of hydroelectric power on the Diamond Fork System of the Central Utah Project, which is a pipeline that moves water from Utah’s Strawberry Reservoir to Utah and Salt Lake counties.

      Before that, on March 14, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski introduced the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013 (S. 545). This reintroduced version of the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011 would promote the development of small hydropower and conduit projects by decreasing regulatory time frames of certain other low-impact hydro projects. This act is a companion piece to H.R. 267, or the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, which passed the House with a unanimous vote in February.

      Today, April 23, HydroWorld.com online editor Michael Harris is in Washington, D.C., attending a full committee hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. This hearing was scheduled to consider testimony on several energy efficiency and hydropower bills. Three of these have already been mentioned -- H.R. 678/S. 306, S. 545 and H.R. 267 -- and the fourth is S. 761, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013.

      Not to leave out the rest of the world, I’ve seen some favorable movement with regard to hydro legislation in other countries.

      One example is the United Kingdom, where a 100 kW to 500 kW hydro band was introduced in March to the country’s feed-in-tariff (FiT) scheme. Effective March 15, this new legislation will allow owners of projects with installed capacities of 100 kW to 500 kW to receive 12.48 pence to 15.98 pence per kWh, depending on whether the project was approved before or after the enactment date. U.K. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey says this legislation will enable investors and project developers to make investment decisions “before changes to the electricity market come into effect, ensuring that renewable electricity projects can get built.”

      What’s next? Considering the rapidity with which this legislation is moving through the system, anything is possible. But whatever it is, this is an exciting time for hydro.

      Tell me what you think about all the legislative activity going on in the hydro arena. How many of these bills are going to pass? Do you envision them affecting hydro?