A place for hydro?

Source: BY MATTHEW CHOI, Politico • Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Wyden also told ME Tuesday that he’s working on getting an investment tax credit for hydropower included in the reconciliation bill — a measure pushed by Sens. Maria Cantwelland Lisa Murkowski . The 30-percent investment tax credit would go toward updating hydropower facilities to improve resiliency, efficiency and environmental safeguards, and has the backing of both the hydro industry and river protection groups, who often clashed on dam construction in the past.

Cantwell and Murkowski’s bill would also cover removing defunct dams to protect river ecosystems. Cantwell’s office is working with the Senate Finance Committee to get the measure (S. 2306 (117)) included.

But it could still face hurdles in the House, whose tax approach has been focused on prolonging current programs rather than fiddling with new ones. Malcolm Woolf, president and CEO of the National Hydropower Association, told ME he feared the industry was being overlooked for higher profile renewables, like wind and solar, even though hydropower would provide a baseload independent of weather conditions (though recent droughts out West have put some hydro facilities at risk). Hydropower is the third largest zero-carbon source of generation at 7.3 percent in the country behind nuclear and wind.

“I fear the administration is going one step forward and two steps backward on its climate goal, that as it’s racing to put together a package for Glasgow and COP26, it’s perhaps inadvertently leaving behind some of the essential pieces necessary to make a clean energy grid work, in particular flexible hydropower,” Woolf said.