ICYMI: Dr. Bucshon’s Hydropower Law is Working and Will Soon be Electrifying Dams
(Washington, D.C.) – Last Congress, Dr. Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) authored the Promoting Hydropower Development at Existing Nonpowered Dams Act, which was signed into law as part of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021) in October of 2018. Now, less than a year later, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says 32 dams that currently do not generate electricity are planned to be converted to hydroelectric dams, which will add more than 330 megawatts of clean, renewable electric generating capacity to the grid.
Nonpowered dams can be converted to hydroelectric dams for electricity generation
According to EIA’s most recent electric generator inventory, 32 dams that currently do not generate electricity are planned to be converted to hydroelectric dams, which will add more than 330 megawatts (MW) of electric generating capacity to the grid over the next several years.
The United States has more than 90,000 dams, but only 3% of those currently support hydroelectric generators. Those generators have a total hydroelectric capacity of nearly 80,000 MW as of February 2019. Other dams are used solely for water management or navigational purposes and are referred to as nonpowered dams (NPDs).
Although many NPDs lack the hydrological attributes to support electric power generation, a 2012 U.S Department of Energy report estimated that NPDs have 12,000 MW of potential capacity that could be used to increase U.S. hydroelectric generation. Project developers continue to pursue this potential by using existing waterway infrastructure to add hydroelectric generation capacity. The U.S. Congress passed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which, among other provisions, supports the development of new hydroelectric resources.