Hydropower, a vital component of America’s renewable energy sector, is facing a formidable challenge—a complex regulatory maze that hinders its development and threatens our energy security. As passionate conservatives, we must shed light on the burdensome licensing processes that hydropower projects must navigate, calling for streamlined procedures that promote clean, reliable energy solutions.
With nearly 80,000 megawatts of power, hydropower stands as a formidable contributor, supplying 6.2% of total U.S. utility-scale electricity and a commendable 28.7% of total utility-scale renewable electricity, according to federal data. Yet, the hurdles faced by hydropower far exceed those encountered by other carbon-free energy sources, creating an unfair playing field.
The National Hydropower Association (NHA) and energy developers are voicing their concerns about the lack of clarity in the licensing process, both in terms of timeframes and costs. The current uncertainties have driven many asset owners to consider surrendering their licenses, threatening our power grid’s stability, especially as we integrate fluctuating wind and solar sources.
Obtaining an original license for new hydro projects can take an average of five years, while the relicensing process for existing facilities stretches nearly eight years. To compound matters, up to 11 federal agencies are involved in the hydropower licensing process, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, unlike other renewable energy projects.
The urgency of the situation intensifies as a significant number of non-federal hydropower licenses are set to expire between 2030 and 2035. Without permitting reforms that streamline the relicensing and licensing processes, these facilities may shut down, and energy developers may divert their investments elsewhere. This outcome risks depriving tens of millions of Americans of reliable power.
The decision-making process for companies is time-sensitive, as studies and assessments must be completed years in advance of applications. A recent industry survey indicated that over a third of hydropower facility owners are actively contemplating decommissioning or surrendering their licenses. We cannot afford to postpone addressing this issue; it requires immediate attention from our current Congress.
Reports reveal that around 90% of projects seeking original licenses abandon their pursuit before approval, with smaller existing facilities and proposed projects facing significant permitting hurdles. This obstructs the growth potential of hydropower within our nation’s energy landscape.
Hydropower’s reliability sets it apart from intermittent renewable alternatives like solar and wind. It serves as a dependable energy source, meeting high-demand periods or compensating for low supply during adverse weather conditions. Regions blessed with abundant hydropower resources often enjoy lower electricity costs.
Rye Development, a leading hydro developer, specializes in leveraging existing dam infrastructure and closed-loop pump storage technology. These innovations expand the utilization of hydropower in energy systems grappling with the integration of wind and solar.
Erik Steimle, the executive vice president of Rye Development, emphasizes the need for reliable energy sources and highlights hydropower’s ability to deliver clean electricity around the clock.
As the renewable energy landscape evolves, hydropower faces increasing challenges. Wind power has surpassed hydropower, and solar power has experienced remarkable growth of over 420% in the last decade, altering the renewable energy hierarchy.
Source Fox News