INFRASTRUCTURE BILL ACCELERATES THE REHABILITATION, RETROFIT, OR REMOVAL OF AMERICA’S 90,000 DAMS
Includes historic support for grid resilience, dam safety upgrades, and environmental enhancements at existing hydropower facilities
Washington, D.C. (July 28, 2021) – The National Hydropower Association today applauded the announcement of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation negotiated in Congress. Recognizing the importance of the health of our rivers and hydropower, the bill contains key provisions negotiated between conservation groups, dam safety organizations, and the hydropower industry for investment in the rehabilitation, retrofit, and removal of dams determined by their owners to have reached the end of their useful life.
Notably, the bill creates a new grant program (Section 247 of Energy Policy Act of 2005) that provides $553 million to support grid resilience, dam safety upgrades, and environmental enhancements at existing hydropower facilities.
“Hydropower is an essential part of a climate solution, and we applaud Congress for recognizing that it will play a prominent role in reaching the goal of a zero-carbon electricity grid,” said Malcolm Woolf, President and CEO of the National Hydropower Association. “The bill provides the tools needed to encourage investment in the existing hydropower fleet, which currently provides emission-free, reliable, and affordable electricity to an estimated 30 million American homes and businesses. Working with the river and climate communities, we have forged a path forward to optimize hydropower generation, bolster dam safety, and remove dams determined by their owners to have outlived their usefulness. This bill takes a significant leap forward to advancing the clean energy benefits of hydropower, and we look forward to working with Congress towards its final passage.”
The Energy Infrastructure Act also bolsters existing hydropower incentive programs including: $125 million to incentivize adding hydropower generation to existing non-powered dams and conduits (Section 242), and $75 million for hydropower efficiency improvements, such as new low-head turbines. Additionally, the bill creates a demonstration project to assist the development of new pumped storage hydropower facilities by providing funding for project design, transmission studies, and power market assessments.
For dam safety, the measure includes $800 million for the rehabilitation of high hazard potential dams and safety projects to maintain, upgrade and repair dams. The bill also provides $800 million for dam removal and in-stream barriers with the consent of the dam owner.