Tipton Hydropower Bill Eliminates Unnecessary Paperwork to Create Jobs, Expands Use of Clean Affordable Energy - The Subcommittee on Water and Power today held a legislative hearing on H.R. 2842, the "Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2011," introduced by Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-03).
It's great that congress is trying to streamline the development of small hydro but it isn't going to be enough; the changes in regulation and relaxing of the rules will help but that is still only a small part of the hurtles facing a developer. As a government relations consultant for a small company that is trying to install small hydro on existing dams I see the frustration and setbacks that are killing projects due mostly to bureaucratic stonewalling; the service and advisory agencies of the Federal government have no interest, no incentive, and no reason what so ever to see these projects become successful in spite of the fact these projects create jobs and produce a stable, clean renewable energy.
At best, small hydro under 10 Mws, is expensive but the length of the license and the continuous flow of energy makes up for the cost - just barely. The cost of licensing, that is complying with NEPA is time consuming and expensive but doable; the trick is getting those federal agencies who are stake holders to quit stalling due to their personal agendas. It seems that the mid-level faction of the federal government is full of people who work harder at justifying their job more than they actually do their job.
Any industry that depends on investors is faced with timelines, deadlines and goals particularly for financing, delays are project killers however the government doesn't see this, in fact I'm not sure any portion or branch of the government understands the cost of delay.
When and if Congress finally understands that regulation alone won't fix the problem maybe, just maybe we will enjoy some viable progress in clean energy development.