Hundreds of the most prominent figures from the United States' hydro industry have descended upon the nation's capital for the National Hydropower Association's annual Waterpower Week in Washington.
The annual conference kicks off just days after the Senate approved the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 by a large, bipartisan majority.
The legislation -- alongside similar legislation passed by the House earlier this year -- includes a number of measures pertinent to streamlining licensing procedures and funding for improvements, representing a growing federal commitment to hydropower, according to NHA Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci.
"Thinking back on this past year, it has become clear to me that there is an underlying theme that is taking hold of our industry, and that is unlocking hydropower's potential," Church Ciocci said during the conference's opening keynote address. "The realization that hydropower is a clean source of renewable energy is leading the charge of hydropower’s resurgence, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are recognizing that hydropower is needed to secure the nation’s clean energy future."
Helping lead the charge is Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who co-sponsored the Energy Policy Modernization Act alongside Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
"I'm excited about the future growth of hydro because, obviously, it's carbon-free, of a flexible nature, and not to mention, it creates 55,000 good paying jobs," Cantwell said during the opening session. "But there's also more to do with efficiency, and by focusing on building out existing infrastructure, we can squeeze more energy and ancillary services out of non-powered dams, conduits and pumped-storage sites."
Conventional hydropower isn't the only point of emphasis, with the International Marine Renewable Energy Conference (IMREC) and Marine Energy Technology Symposium (METS) joining the NHA for the second year.
"Together, we form the largest tapestry of clean, renewable electricity solutions," Church Ciocci said.
PennWell's Hydro Group will be providing updates from Waterpower Week in Washington all week.
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