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Obama Administration Announced Plans to Expand Hydroelectric Program


July 1, 2009 – The U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that up to $32 million dollars of Recovery Act funding will be used to expand the harvest of hydroelectric power. “There’s no one solution to the energy crisis, but hydro-power is clearly part of the solution and represents a major opportunity to create more clean energy jobs,” said Secretary Chu.

The funding would be used on existing facilities in order to modernize the current infrastructures, increase efficiency and reduce the impact that the facilities have on the environment. “Investing in our existing hydro-power infrastructure will strengthen our economy, reduce pollution and help us toward energy independence,” said Chu. The announcement made today is designed to work on non-federal facilities; increasing energy output and environmental stewardship by supporting the deployment of turbines and control technologies.

One of the advantages to hydroelectric power (related: Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy) noted by Secretary Chu is that the energy produced can be stored behind the dam. Being able to store energy on-site rather than consume it immediately allows energy to be used when it is most needed. By improving the hydro infrastructure, we open the door to the utilization and economic viability of intermittent sources of renewable energy such as wind and solar. Secretary Chu supports the development of pumped storage technology in order to further take advantage of the said benefits.

The funding, which comes under the Federal Recovery Act, will be competitively awarded to a variety of non-federal facilities that can be developed without major modifications to the existing dams and a minimum of regulatory delay.

Projects will be selected in two areas:

  • Deployment of Hydro-power Upgrades at Projects >50 MW: These include projects at large, non-federal facilities (greater than 50 MW capacity) with existing or advanced technologies that will enable improved environmental performance and significant new generation.
  • Deployment of Hydro-power Upgrades at Projects < 50 MW: These include projects at small-scale non-federal facilities (less than 50 MWs) with existing or advanced technologies that will enable improved environmental performance and significant new generation.

Letters of intent to receive funding are due July 22, 2009 and completed applications are due August 20, 2009. Projects are expected to begin in fiscal year 2010.

To read the complete Funding Opportunity Announcement click here.

Photo Credit: calwest via flickr under Creative Commons License

  1. Barbara Dylla

    Brilliant move! At least someone is smart enough to consider upgrading existing facilities rather than pushing through projects to build new ones (like Quebec)!

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