Hydropower is a clean, efficient renewable energy source that is poised to play a larger role in the nation's renewable energy portfolio, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski told hundreds of hydropower professionals gathered at the 2011 National Hydropower Association Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
The senator's NHA address followed on the heels of her introduction of the bipartisan Hydropower Improvement Act of 2011, which is aimed at boosting U.S. hydropower generation.
"I am a strong, strong hydro proponent," Murkowski, R-Alaska., said, noting that her home state gets about one quarter of its power from hydroelectric generation. "I consider hydro to be one of our hardest working renewable resources."
Senator Murkowski, R-Alaska, is the current ranking member on the Committee for Energy and Natural Resources.
A record-breaking crowd of more than 570 hydropower industry professionals are gathered at the Capital Hilton for the 2011 National Hydropower Association Annual Conference. The event began April 4 and lasts through April 6.
A wide range of activities, meetings and sessions are planned for the NHA conference, covering many aspects of the hydropower industry. Subjects range from legislative and regulatory issues to dam safety and security, small hydro, pumped-storage hydro and an array of other topics.
Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary Anne Castle and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Commissioner John Norris were among the industry leaders to address NHA conference attendees during the event's opening session.
Castle cited a recent DOI internal study that shows the department could generate up to one million megawatt hours of electricity annually and create jobs by adding hydropower capacity at 70 of its existing facilities.
"We clearly recognize the importance of the hydropower resource," she said, noting that inter-agency cooperation will play an important role in further developing hydropower's role in the nation's renewable energy mix.
FERC Commissioner Norris said increased generation from hydropower and other clean energy sources will diversify domestic energy production and lower dependence on foreign energy.
"There is great opportunity for hydro moving forward," Norris said, noting that "We are in a period of transition in our energy economy."
Prior to the start of this year's NHA conference, FERC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed an updated memorandum of understanding to ensure timely review of non-federal hydropower development applications.
NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci and NHA President Andrew Munro said hydropower is gaining momentum and is ready to take a leading role in America's renewable energy mix.
"This is a historic time," Munro said. "It's a new era for hydro."
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By HydroWorld.com Editor Shaun Epperson