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Text of the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011

This bill was introduced on April 12, 2011, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of May 18, 2011 (Reported by Senate Committee).

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II

Calendar No. 55

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 629

[Report No. 112–19]

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 17, 2011

(for herself, Mr. Begich, Mr. Bingaman, Ms. Cantwell, Mr. Crapo, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Risch, Mr. Whitehouse, and Mr. Wyden) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

May 18, 2011

Reported by , with an amendment

Omit the part struck through and insert the part printed in italic

A BILL

To improve hydropower, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 3. Definitions.

Sec. 4. Sense of the Senate on the use of hydropower renewable resources.

Sec. 5. Competitive grants for improvements for increased hydropower production.

Sec. 6. Plan for research, development, and demonstration to increase hydropower capacity.

Sec. 7. Promoting hydropower development at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects.

Sec. 8. Promoting conduit hydropower projects and small hydroelectric power projects.

Sec. 9. FERC authority to extend preliminary permit terms.

Sec. 10. Study of non-Federal hydropower development at Bureau of Reclamation projects.

Sec. 11. Study of potential hydropower from conduits.

Sec. 12. Study of pumped storage.

Sec. 13. Report on memorandum of understanding on hydropower.

Sec. 14. Nonapplication to Federal Power Marketing Administrations.

Sec. 15. Budgetary effects.

2.

Findings

Congress finds that—

(1)

hydropower is the largest source of clean, renewable electricity in the United States;

(2)

as of the date of enactment of this Act, hydropower resources, including pumped storage facilities, provide—

(A)

nearly 7 percent of the electricity generated in the United States, avoiding approximately 200,000,000 metric tons of carbon emissions each year; and

(B)

approximately 100,000 megawatts of electric capacity in the United States;

(3)

only 3 percent of the 80,000 dams in the United States generate electricity so there is substantial potential for adding hydropower generation to nonpower dams;

(4)

in every State, a tremendous untapped growth potential exists in hydropower resources, including—

(A)

efficiency improvements and capacity additions;

(B)

adding generation to nonpower dams;

(C)

conduit hydropower;

(D)

conventional hydropower;

(E)

pumped storage facilities; and

(F)

new marine and hydrokinetic resources; and

(5)

improvements in increased hydropower production in the United States have the potential—

(A)

to increase the clean energy generation of the United States;

(B)

to improve project performance and result in better environmental outcomes; and

(C)

to provide ancillary benefits that include grid reliability, energy storage, and integration services for variable renewable resources.

3.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Conduit

The term conduit means any tunnel, canal, pipeline, aqueduct, flume, ditch, or similar manmade water conveyance that is operated for the distribution of water for agricultural, municipal, or industrial consumption and not primarily for the generation of electricity.

(2)

Secretary

The term Secretary means the Secretary of Energy.

(3)

Small hydroelectric power project

The term small hydroelectric power project has the meaning given the term in section 4.30 of title 18, Code of Federal Regulations.

4.

Sense of the Senate on the use of hydropower renewable resources

It is the sense of the Senate that the United States should increase substantially the capacity and generation of clean, renewable hydropower which will improve the environmental quality of resources in the United States and support local job creation and economic investment across the United States.

5.

Competitive grants for improvements for increased hydropower production

(a)

In general

As soon as practicable after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall establish in the Department of Energy a program under which the Secretary shall make competitive grants to eligible entities (including States and political subdivisions) that—

(1)

in the case of a hydroelectric power generating facility in existence on the date of enactment of this Act—

(A)

make efficiency improvements or capacity additions at the facility; or

(B)

address aging infrastructure at the facility;

(2)

add hydropower generation to a nonpower dam in existence as of the date of enactment of this Act;

(3)

develop hydroelectric generation within existing conduits;

(4)

develop and perform studies to meet applicable environmental requirements for increased hydropower production; or

(5)

carry out necessary environmental mitigation measures.

(b)

Administration

(1)

In general

The Secretary shall establish terms and conditions, including eligibility, for the receipt of grants under this section.

(2)

Inclusions

In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall ensure that powerhouses and projects that require new infrastructure are included among the eligible entities that may receive grants under this section.

(c)

Cost sharing

The Secretary shall carry out the program under this section in compliance with sections 988 and 989 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16352, 16353).

(d)

Funding

From amounts made available under section 625(e) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 17204(e)), the Secretary may use to carry out this section $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2012 through 2016, of which not more than 20 percent of the amount made available for a fiscal year may be used to carry out an individual project.

6.

Plan for research, development, and demonstration to increase hydropower capacity

(a)

In general

Not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall establish and implement a plan—

(1)

to facilitate through research, development, and demonstration the increased use and generation of renewable hydropower; and

(2)

to coordinate research and development on innovative technological advancements in hydropower equipment, efficiency, and operations that can substantially improve environmental quality.

(b)

Administration

The Secretary shall—

(1)

review and update the plan on an annual basis; and

(2)

report on progress made pursuant to the plan on an annual basis to the Committee of Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives.

(c)

Technical assistance

(1)

In general

As part of the plan established under this section, the Secretary shall provide technical assistance to applicants and licensees covered by part I of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 792 et seq.) to develop and perform environmental studies, or comply with applicable environmental requirements, to obtain or renew licenses for hydropower projects.

(2)

Consultation

The Secretary shall carry out this subsection in consultation with (as appropriate)—

(A)

the Secretary of the Interior;

(B)

the Secretary of Commerce;

(C)

the Secretary of Agriculture; and

(D)

the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

(d)

Coordination

The Secretary shall coordinate, to the maximum extent practicable, activities under this section with other programs of the Department of Energy and other Federal research programs.

(e)

Funding

From amounts made available under section 812(g) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16161(g)), the Secretary may use to carry out this section $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2012 through 2016.

7.

Promoting hydropower development at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects

(a)

In general

To improve the regulatory process and reduce delays and costs for hydropower development at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (referred to in this section as the Commission) shall investigate the feasibility of the issuance of a license for certain hydropower development during the 2-year period beginning on the date of commencement of the prefiling licensing process of the Commission (referred to in this section as a 2-year process).

(b)

Workshops and pilots

The Commission shall—

(1)

not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, hold an initial workshop to solicit public comment and recommendations on how to implement a 2-year process;

(2)

develop criteria for identifying projects featuring hydropower development at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects that may be appropriate for licensing within a 2-year process;

(3)

not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, develop and implement pilot projects to test a 2-year process, if practicable; and

(4)

not later than 3 years after the date of implementation of any pilot project to test a 2-year process, hold a final workshop to solicit public comment on the effectiveness of the pilot project.

(c)

Memorandum of understanding

The Commission shall, to the maximum extent practicable, enter into a memorandum of understanding with any applicable Federal or State agency to implement a pilot project described in subsection (b).

(d)

Reports

(1)

Pilot projects not implemented

If the Commission determines that the pilot projects described in subsection (b) are not practicable, not later than 240 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives a report that—

(A)

describes the public comments received as part of the initial workshop held under subsection (b)(1); and

(B)

identifies the process, legal, environmental, economic, and other issues that justify the determination of the Commission that a 2-year process is not practicable, with recommendations on how Congress may address or remedy the identified issues.

(2)

Pilot projects implemented

If the Commission develops and implements pilot projects involving a 2-year process described in subsection (b), not later than 60 days after the date of completion of any final workshop held under subsection (b)(3)(b)(4), the Commission shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives a report that—

(A)

describes the outcomes of the pilot projects;

(B)

describes the public comments from the final workshop on the effectiveness of the pilot projects; and

(C)
(i)

outlines how the Commission will adopt policies under existing law (including regulations) that result in a 2-year process;

(ii)

outlines how the Commission will proceed with a rulemaking to adopt a 2-year process in the regulations of the Commission; or

(iii)

identifies the process, legal, environmental, economic, and other issues that justify the determination of the Commission that a 2-year process is not practicable, with recommendations on how Congress may address or remedy the identified issues.

8.

Promoting conduit hydropower projects and small hydroelectric power projects

(a)

Conduit hydropower projects

(1)

In general

Section 30 of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 823a) is amended—

(A)

in subsection (a), by striking paragraphs (1) and (2) and inserting the following:

(1)

is located on non-Federal lands or Federal lands; and

(2)

uses for the generation only the hydroelectric potential of a conduit.

;

(B)

in subsection (c)—

(i)

in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by striking the United States and all that follows through and the State agency and inserting the Secretary of the department that supervises the land on which the facility is or will be located, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the State agency; and

(ii)

in paragraph (1), by striking the Fish and Wildlife Service National Marine Fisheries Service and inserting the Secretary of the department that supervises the land on which the facility is or will be located, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service,; and

(C)

by adding at the end the following:

(f)

Savings clause

Nothing in this section alters or affects the authority of the Secretary of the Interior under the reclamation laws—

(1)

to authorize private hydropower development under a lease of power privilege; or

(2)

to develop other hydropower generation at facilities of the Bureau of Reclamation.

(g)

Definition of conduit

In this section, the term conduit means any tunnel, canal, pipeline, aqueduct, flume, ditch, or similar manmade water conveyance that is operated for the distribution of water for agricultural, municipal, or industrial consumption and not primarily for the generation of electricity.

.

(2)

Memorandum of understanding on conduit hydropower projects

Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with relevant Federal agencies that have conditioning authority under section 30(c)(1) of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C.823a(c)(1))—

(A)

to establish a coordinated and more efficient approach to any environmental impact statement or similar analysis required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) relating to the consideration of conduit hydropower projects;

(B)

to develop and carry out an expedited approval process for conduit hydropower projects, including using existing authority—

(i)

to aggregate appropriate conduit projects for consideration in a consolidated license or exemption; and

(ii)

to remove a conduit project from the aggregated projects if the removal is necessary to facilitate approval of the consolidated license or exemption.

(3)

Public workshops and pilot projects on conduit hydropower projects

(A)

In general

As soon as practicable after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commissioner of Reclamation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shall conduct 3 regional public workshops with relevant stakeholders, including water users and the environmental community, to identify ways in which the conduit approval process may be modified—

(i)

to reduce barriers to conduit hydropower projects, including barriers created by project costs or the timeframe to approve and maintain adequate environmental, health, and safety protections;

(ii)

to develop pilot projects in conjunction with voluntary participants to demonstrate flexible and innovative ways to reduce barriers to conduit hydropower while maintaining adequate environmental, health, and safety protections; and

(iii)

to develop a category of microhydropower conduit projects, such as projects involving municipal pressure reduction valves and the pressurization of existing irrigation conveyances, that may be approved through a simple application process while maintaining adequate environmental, health, and safety protections.

(B)

Report

Not later than 180 days after the date of completion of the regional workshops under subparagraph (A), the Commissioner of Reclamation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that describes any recommendations for the conduit approval process developed in the workshops and pilot projects described in subparagraph (A).

(C)

Funding

From amounts made available under section 812(g) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16161(g)), the Commissioner of Reclamation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may use to carry out pilot projects described in subparagraph (A)(ii) $5,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2012 through 2016, to remain available until expended.

(b)

Small hydroelectric power projects

(1)

In general

As soon as practicable after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shall conduct 3 regional public workshops with relevant stakeholders, including States and the environmental community—

(A)

to reduce barriers for small hydroelectric power projects, including barriers created by project costs or the timeframe to approve and maintain adequate environmental, health, and safety protections;

(B)

to develop pilot projects in conjunction with voluntary participants to demonstrate flexible and innovative ways to reduce barriers for small hydroelectric power projects while maintaining adequate environmental, health, and safety protections;

(C)

to use existing authority—

(i)

to aggregate appropriate small hydroelectric power projects for consideration in a consolidated license or exemption; and

(ii)

to remove a small hydroelectric power project from the aggregated projects if the removal is necessary to facilitate approval of the consolidated license or exemption; and

(D)

to determine whether the rated capacity for small hydroelectric power projects established by the Commission should be increased from 5 electrical megawatts.

(2)

Report

Not later than 180 days after the date of completion of the workshops under paragraph (1), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that describes any recommendations developed in the workshops and pilot projects described in paragraph (1).

(3)

Funding

From amounts made available under section 812(g) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16161(g)), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may use to carry out pilot projects described in paragraph (1)(B) $5,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2012 through 2016, to remain available until expended.

9.

FERC authority to extend preliminary permit terms

Section 5 of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 798) is amended—

(1)

by designating the first, second, and third sentences as subsections (a), (c), and (d), respectively; and

(2)

by inserting after subsection (a) (as so designated) the following:

(b)

Extension

The Commission may extend the term of a preliminary permit once for not more than 2 additional years if the Commission finds that the permittee has carried out activities under the permit in good faith and with reasonable diligence.

.

10.

Study of non-Federal hydropower development at Bureau of Reclamation projects

(a)

Study of non-Federal hydropower development at Bureau of Reclamation projects

Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Commissioner of Reclamation (in consultation with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, preference power customers, water users, and other interested stakeholders) shall—

(1)

conduct a study of barriers to non-Federal hydropower development at Bureau of Reclamation projects; and

(2)

report to Congress the results of the study.

(b)

Memorandum of understanding

(1)

In general

Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Commissioner of Reclamation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shall develop and issue an interagency memorandum of understanding to improve the coordination and timeliness of the non-Federal development of hydropower resources at Bureau of Reclamation projects.

(2)

Content

The memorandum of understanding described in paragraph (1) shall identify—

(A)

which agency has responsibility for permitting and licensing non-Federal development of hydropower at each Bureau of Reclamation project; and

(B)

the process or procedure to be followed for non-Federal hydropower development, including conduit hydroelectric power, at each Bureau of Reclamation project.

(c)

Administration

Nothing in this section alters or affects the authority of the Secretary of the Interior under the reclamation laws—

(1)

to authorize private hydropower development under a lease of power privilege; or

(2)

to develop other hydropower generation at facilities of the Bureau of Reclamation.

11.

Study of potential hydropower from conduits

(a)

In general

The Secretary shall conduct a study of the potential quantity of hydropower that may be obtained from conduits in the United States.

(b)

Report

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives a report that describes the results of the study conducted under subsection (a), including any recommendations.

12.

Study of pumped storage

(a)

In general

The Secretary, in coordination with the Director of the United States Geological Survey, shall conduct a study (including identification) of Federal and non-Federal land that is well-suited for pumped storage sites and is located near existing or potential sites of intermittent renewable resource development, such as wind farms.

(b)

Report

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives a report that describes the results of the study conducted under subsection (a), including any recommendations.

13.

Report on memorandum of understanding on hydropower

Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives a report on actions taken by the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and the Corps of Engineers to carry out the memorandum of understanding on hydropower entered into on March 24, 2010, with particular emphasis on actions taken by the agencies to work together and investigate ways to efficiently and responsibly facilitate the Federal permitting process for Federal and non-Federal hydropower projects at Federal facilities, within existing authority.

14.

Nonapplication to Federal Power Marketing Administrations

(a)

In general

This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall not limit the authority of the Bureau of Reclamation to develop new hydropower at existing Federal projects in a manner that is consistent with Federal law, power and nonpower operating requirements of the Federal projects, and laws governing Federal Power Marketing Administrations.

(b)

Modifications

Nothing in this Act limits the authority under existing law of a Federal Power Marketing Administrator in the event that operations at Federal projects with hydropower facilities are modified.

15.

Budgetary effects

The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall be determined by reference to the latest statement titled Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation for this Act, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, provided that such statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.

May 18, 2011

Reported with an amendment