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      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 The legislation was originally enacted in 1992 and has been renewed and expanded numerous times.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.