The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (H.R. 267) is a bill that was introduced into the United States House of Representatives of the 113th United States Congress on January 15, 2013. It passed the House on February 13, 2013 by a vote of 422-0. President Obama signed the Act into law on August 9, 2013.
The Bill is intended to change some of the regulations in the United States surrounding hydropower by making it easier to develop smaller-output hydropower stations. According to the bill's proponents, current regulations are unwieldy and represent a significant hurdle to creating more hydropower plants. The Bill would alter those regulations to make it easier for smaller plants to get approval quickly. The legislation also requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to study how to further improve the regulatory process. The Bill would amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and the Federal Power Act. Currently, hydropower projects that produce 5,000 kilowatts or less of power do not require certain licenses. The Bill would raise that amount to 10,000 kilowatts, facilitating the speed at which smaller hydropower projects could be built. The existing rules mean that it takes about five years for hydropower projects to get approval, according to hydropower industry sources.
Hydropower is a significant source of renewable energy in the United States. The National Hydropower Association (NHA) conducted a study that concluded that "the United States could add approximately 60,000 MW of new hydropower capacity by 2025, potentially creating as many as 700,000 jobs in the process," according to the Committee Report released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee when it referred the Bill to the floor.
This summary is from Wikipedia.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Aug 9, 2013.
Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 - (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 5 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: (1) 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; and (2) extend the preliminary permit period for up to 2 additional years beyond the 3 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.