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US hydro industry unites in legislative reform effort

Seeking to preserve and enhance the nation’s hydro power resources, the Industry Coalition for Hydropower has united behind an effort to initiate bipartisan dialogue with Congress and the Clinton administration to enact legislation that would reform the hydro power licensing process in the US.

Over 50% of all non-federal hydroelectric capacity is due to be relicensed in the next 15 years. ‘Given this relicensing challenge before the hydro power industry, consumers and the environment stand to realise great benefits from an improved hydro power licensing process,’ Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the national-hydropower-association (NHA) said. ‘By reforming the licensing process, we can spend our time and money on protecting our rivers and the riverine habitat, not on regulatory red tape,’ she added.

Alan Richardson, executive director of the American Public Power Association, said: ‘Hydro power has so much to offer our nation in terms of clean, low cost energy. We can no longer allow this valuable national resource to be encumbered by an unwieldy, unpredictable licensing process.’ Past efforts on the regulatory process have resulted in the new collaborative approach at FERC (see IWP&DC July 1998, pp24-29).

However, the Coalition, which comprises NHA, the American Public Power Association and Edison Electric Institute, says that legislative action is now needed to improve environmental reviews, reduce the time involved and improve the predictability of relicensing proceedings.

Furthermore, the Coalition urges that adequate consideration must be given to energy, air and economic values in relicensing decisions.