Senate approval of two bills could benefit America's hydroelectric power sector

Senate Floor

Legislative movement in Congress this week could benefit the United States' hydroelectric power sector, with the Senate approving both a tax extenders bill and an omnibus appropriations bill.

The first -- House Resolution 5571 -- was approved by the Senate with a 76-16 margin and amends an existing Internal Revenue Code to extend certain expiring tax provisions for some forms of energy production through 2014, including conventional hydroelectric power, and marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) generation.

Also included in the legislations are provisions for the extension of hydro production and investment tax credits (PTC and ITC).

H.R. 5571 passed the House of Representatives by a wide margin earlier this month.

The Senate also approved an omnibus appropriations bill with a 56-40 margin. The legislation provides funding for the federal government through the remainder of Fiscal Year 2015, excluding the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded under a short-term continuing resolution.

Included in the bill is an increased Department of Energy appropriation for its water power program, with funding to increasing nearly US$2 million to $60.4 million total. The amount is the most ever allocated for the program.

The omnibus bill also amends negative language regarding America's role in international hydropower development that were included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, which appeared before Congress earlier this year.

Section 7060.a.7.D. of the 2014 act stated that "it is the policy of the United States to oppose any loan, grant, strategy or policy" that might "support the construction of any large hydroelectric dam", while the revised language allows the Secretary of the Treasury to offer such support, so long as certain stipulations are met.

Both bills are expected to be enacted by President Barack Obama soon.

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