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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
7/9/2012--Passed House without amendment. Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2012 - (Sec. 3) Amends the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) to increase from 5,000 to 10,000 kilowatts the size of small hydroelectric power projects which the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) may exempt from its license requirements.
(Sec. 4) Amends the Federal Power Act to revise the limitation on the maximum installation capacity of qualifying conduit hydropower facilities that are eligible for an exemption from licensing requirements.
Requires any person, state, or municipality proposing to construct a qualifying conduit hydropower facility to file with FERC a notice of intent to do so. Requires FERC, within 15 days after receiving such a notice of intent, to make an initial determination as to whether the facility meets the qualifying criteria.
Waives license requirements for any conduit hydroelectric facility that: (1) uses for electric power generation only the hydroelectric potential of a non-federally owned conduit, (2) has a maximum installed capacity of five megawatts, and (3) is not currently licensed or exempted from license requirements.
Redefines "conduit" to specify any tunnel, canal, pipeline, aqueduct, flume, ditch, or similar manmade water conveyance operated for the distribution of water for agricultural, municipal, or industrial consumption and not primarily for the generation of electricity.
Authorizes FERC to exempt from license requirements any electric power generation facility that utilizes for such generation only the hydroelectric potential of a conduit, and has an installed capacity or 40 megawatts or fewer.
(Sec. 5) Authorizes FERC to extend the preliminary permit period for up to two additional years beyond the three years otherwise allowed if it finds that the permittee has implemented activities under the permit in good faith and with reasonable diligence.
(Sec. 6) Directs FERC to: (1) investigate the feasibility of issuing a license for hydropower development at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects during a two-year period, and (2) hold workshops and develop hydropower pilot projects.
(Sec. 7) Directs the Secretary of Energy (DOE) to study: (1) the technical flexibility that existing pumped storage facilities can provide to support intermittent renewable electric energy generation, including the potential for such facilities to be upgraded or retrofitted with advanced commercially available technology; and (2) the technical potential of existing pumped storage facilities and new advanced pumped storage facilities to provide grid reliability benefits.