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Licensing reform makes a move on Congress

JULIE KEIL, FORMER national-hydropower-association president and hydro licensing director of Portland General Electric Company, has been testifying before the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee on licensing reform.

‘All across the west, utilities are struggling to keep the lights on and to provide reliable power that is the engine of economic growth,’ she said. ‘To call the licensing process a three-ring circus does not do justice to the complexity we face.’ The failure of the hydro licensing process to adequately balance both environmental and energy needs has been a concern of the hydro industry for a number of years. Industry has warned that the existing licensing process threatens hydro capacity and operational flexibility as one-half of the country’s hydroelectric capacity faces renewal over the next 15 years.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has passed, on a 50-5 vote, legislation that will give hydroelectric owners the right to propose alternative environmental measures during the licensing of their projects. The measure, sections 201 and 202 of the The Energy Advancement and Conservation Act of 2001, gives hydro power owners the right to propose alternative licence conditions that afford the same environmental protection, while costing less or permitting improved electrical generation.

Currently, conditions imposed by resource agencies are manda-tory and cannot be modified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or anyone else.
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