Tipton bill encourages
 hydroelectric projects

A measure that would allow irrigation districts and other organizations to generate electricity from ditches and small pipes passed the U.S. House on Wednesday.

The measure by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., passed 416 to 7 with all members of the Colorado delegation voting in favor of the measure.

A companion measure sponsored by Sens. John Barasso and Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, both of Idaho, all Republicans, is awaiting action in the Senate.

A previous version of the bill passed the House last year, 265-154, but no Senate vote was taken last year.

H.R. 678 would encourage increased development of small hydropower projects, create new jobs in rural areas of Colorado, boost the amount of electricity to the grid to power homes and communities, modernize infrastructure and supply the federal government with additional revenues, Tipton said in a statement.

The measure passed the full House after Tipton carried an amendment that included small-conduit hydropower projects on pipes and ditches built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as those that could be approved as categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Similar legislation for projects under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission already has passed the House and also is before the Senate.

The bill “should be considered low-hanging fruit for congressional action,” Tipton said. “There has been a lot of discussion on both sides of the aisle about the need to pursue an all-of-the-above domestic energy strategy, and hydropower, as the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source, should be at the forefront of any comprehensive national energy policy.”

Each megawatt of new hydropower generates 5.3 new jobs, according to estimates by the National Hydropower Association.

That could mean as many as 1,000 new jobs in Colorado for developers, engineers, attorneys, financiers, concrete workers, plumbers, carpenters, welders and electricians, said Kurt Johnson, president of the Colorado Small Hydro Association.


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