WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Hydropower business leaders urged President Obama and Senate leaders to promote expanded hydropower generation in legislation designed to boost the economy and create jobs. Kevin Frank, President and CEO of Voith Hydro, and Marc Gerken, President and CEO of American Municipal Power (AMP), called for the passage of the Hydropower Improvement Act (HIA), which has already passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with strong bipartisan support.
"Hydropower is our nation's most efficient form of energy generation and has tremendous job-growth potential," Frank said. "The Hydropower Improvement Act would go a long way to help us meet hydropower's potential by streamlining the regulatory process and improving research and development at the Department of Energy. In the process, we will create good-paying jobs across the country. I urge President Obama and the Senate to pass this legislation as quickly as possible."
Sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK), the HIA would provide regulatory improvements by encouraging a more efficient licensing process for non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects and better interagency coordination for small hydro projects. It would also create a grant program to support efficiency improvements and capacity additions at existing hydropower facilities and require the Department of Energy to create a research and development program to expand hydropower.
"AMP is undertaking the largest development of new run-of-the-river hydropower in the country, with four projects under construction on the Ohio River," Gerken said. "These projects are bringing much needed jobs and investment. We consider hydropower the highest value renewable energy resource due to its day-ahead forecasting benefits and availability factor, which is 2 to 3 times that of wind or solar. Improving the efficiency of the permitting processes, as called for in the Hydropower Improvement Act, will encourage more job creation and greater project economics for both AMP and the hydropower industry at large."
Letters of support for the HIA were sent to the White House and Majority and Minority Leaders Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell.
Voith Hydro partnered with AMP to build four hydropower generators along the Ohio River. Each project will create 200-400 new construction jobs. As a result of these projects and others, Voith Hydro was able to create 126 new jobs in the last three years, during a time in which many companies were forced to downsize. As impressive as these numbers may seem, more can and should be done.
Currently, only 3% of the over 80,000 dams in the U.S. produce power. A 2009 study found that with the right policies in place, the United States can create 1.4 million cumulative jobs by 2025 by maximizing these non-powered dams and existing hydropower infrastructure and developing pumped storage and new marine and hydrokinetic technologies, adding 60,000 MW of electricity to the nation's electric grid.
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SOURCE Voith Hydro and American Municipal Power