Democrats introduce bill to boost hydro dam efficiency

The Hydro 2.0 Act would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to use revenues from new power production at existing sites to upgrade the efficiency of dozens of dams and improve their environmental performance before looking to build new dams

Washington, D.C., June 26, 2012 — Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to improve the performance of federally owned and operated hydroelectric dams across America.

The "Hydro 2.0 Act" would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to use revenues from new power production at existing sites to upgrade the efficiency of dozens of dams and improve their environmental performance before looking to build new dams.

Markey is the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources Napolitano is ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Water and Power.

"The wildlife that swim and live in our rivers have evolved over millennia to become highly efficient in the water's currents. It's time that the same dams that create electric power from those waters evolve to become more efficient with the water, too," said Rep. Markey. "The bill we're introducing today will empower the Bureau of Reclamation to ensure our dams work smarter, not harder to produce electricity."

"Whether it's our water systems or hydropower projects, efficiency improvements are the most cost effective water and power supply, said Rep. Napolitano. "The ability to make our existing hydropower systems more efficient, mitigate for environmental impacts caused by hydropower, while paying down the debt associated with power, is a win-win-win for everyone."

The Bureau of Reclamation is currently the largest water provider in the nation, and second largest producer of hydropower nationally. The agency estimates that just a one percent efficiency improvement in the 58 dams under their control could produce 16.2 MW of additional power at all times, resulting in extra power that is worth about $5.7 million annually. Upgrades to 10 of those dams could also deliver another 67 MW of electricity to American homes and businesses.

Hydro 2.0 would help to fund these efficiency improvements through revenues from new power generation at existing facilities.

More in Tools & Supplies