Key Policies for Waterpower

Efficient and Expedited Licensing & Relicensing

Today, hydropower developments face a comprehensive regulatory approval process that involves many participants including FERC, federal and state resource agencies, and NGOs. Unfortunately, the time it takes to complete this process fails to reflect the urgency of climate change.

On average, it takes 8 years and millions of dollars in studies to relicense a single hydroelectric project, making it one of the longest and most expensive infrastructure permitting processes in the county. In the last decade, 75% of all hydropower retirements cite a broken licensing process as a primary reason. With 13 gigawatts of hydropower coming up for relicensing in the next decade, and the UNIPCC calling climate change “code red” to humanity, the need for hydropower licensing reform has never been greater.

NHA Advocacy Statement: Streamline the licensing process by improving interagency coordination, eliminating duplicative requirements, and prioritizing early engagement from all stakeholders to help reduce the length and cost of licensing.

Leveling Tax Policy

Expanding renewable energy production and manufacturing in the United States are among the waterpower industry’s top priorities. The U.S. has long used targeted tax credit programs to incentivize investment and innovation in the energy sector. This is true for fossil and renewable resources alike. Tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in private investment across industries — not to mention gigawatts of affordable, reliable, and renewable power — have been driven by smart tax policies.

NHA Advocacy Statement: Equitable tax policies are an important tool for attracting needed capital investment, including tax support for the preservation of existing hydropower.

Wholesale Markets

As our energy mix changes so too must our wholesale market design. Today, regional wholesale markets do not send adequate price signals for clean, flexible resources which will be vital for the clean energy transition. Energy, ancillary services, and capacity markets should be designed to reward resources based on performance and capability.


NHA Advocacy Statement: Fair, competitively neutral market policies that reward performance and send adequate price signals for the resources we need to meet our reliability and climate goals. 

Clean Energy Targets

The nation needs to rely on a diverse and domestic energy mix to generate safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to meet its clean energy targets. Over the past decade, our nation’s energy mix has changed dramatically with much of our electricity coming from clean, carbon-free sources, including hydropower which produces low-carbon electricity, storage, scale, and flexibility.


NHA Advocacy Statement: Policies that set national clean energy targets should include fair and equitable advancements for waterpower.

Advancements in Pumped Storage

Pumped Storage already accounts for 94% of all bulk scale storage on the grid today. There is over 50GWs of new pumped storage projects in the pipeline today. We need fair and equitable policies to ensure the full value of PSH is recognized so it can compete on a level playing field with other technologies.


NHA Advocacy Statement: Policies that do not discriminate against PSH like state energy storage targets, CES and RPS. 

Commercialization of Marine Energy

Marine energy resources in the U.S. are abundant and technologies to convert them into clean, renewable power are on the cusp of commercialization. Support from the U.S. Federal Government is needed for technology research and development, establishing a clear and predictable regulatory framework for testing and demonstration projects, and creating innovative incentives to facilitate rapid deployment of marine energy systems.


NHA Advocacy Statement: Advance government funding to further technology research and development of marine energy systems and streamline the regulatory and permitting process.