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September 3, 2015

Payday for Hydropower, If Senate Can Pass Energy-Water Bill


Senate appropriators are looking to bolster water power research, recommending $69 million for such projects in the Energy-Water bill that stalled last month, an increase of 18 percent.

The funds would represent a coup for Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, who was repeatedly hounded by members in both chambers for trying to boost 2015 funding for stream and river hydropower technologies while cutting a quarter of the funds for tidal and wave power, known as marine hydrokinetic.

“I’m happy to re-examine the balance of that with members who are interested,” Moniz told the House Energy and Commerce Committee while discussing the budget this spring.

The department proposed a new campaign, called HydroNEXT, to tap into what it estimates to be more than 65 gigawatts of potential hydropower capacity from new dam development. But environmental groups have voiced concerns with the practicality of building new dams.

Rather than rebalancing the programs, Senate Energy-Water appropriators recommended maintaining the current funding for hydrokinetic at $41.3 million while boosting the type of funding for HydroNEXT to $27.5 million, close to a 60 percent increase.

While there are dim for the bill passing as is, the priorities will likely have their impact on whatever funding measures move forward.

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