New report examines two-year progress of federal hydropower initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C. 4/19/12 (PennWell) -- A report released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of the Interior details the two-year progress of a Memorandum of Understanding for hydropower.

The MOU, signed in March 2010, contains 13 high-level goals and 17 specific action items that were specifically targeted toward helping America's "development of clean, reliable, cost-effective and sustainable hydropower generation," according to the report.

The report says through collaboration and partnerships with other federal agencies, many of the goals have been achieved, including:

-- Completion of numerous publically-available assessments of different hydropower resources, including a construction database for all existing U.S. hydropower infrastructure;

-- Collaboration in developing tools for the optimization of hydropower facilities and evaluating the potential for state-of-the-art upgrades and modernizations;

-- Funding for several research projects aimed at developing and demonstrating new hydropower generation technologies;

-- Examination of climate change effects on water availability for hydropower generation at federal facilities;

-- Coordination of a stakeholder-driven, basin-scale opportunity assessment in the Deschutes River basin ;

-- Establishment of the Federal Inland Hydropower Working Group;

-- Hosting of research and development workshops on key areas for development in new hydropower generation;

-- Initiation of new studies on pumped storage and ancillary grid services; and

-- Improvement of licensing procedures for the development of new, privately owned hydropower generation at existing federal dams and water infrastructure.

The report notes that hydropower represents the majority of renewable energy capacity utilized in the U.S., although more than half of all hydroelectric turbines currently in use are more than 50 years old.

"This presents both a challenge and an opportunity in the need to innovate and modernize U.S. facilities so that the nation can continue to rely on its hydropower resources for cost-effective and renewable electricity into the future," the report says.

The full two-year progress report is available via Reclamation's website.

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