US DOE provides $13.5 million for record number of hydroelectric facilities

14 September 2022

The US.Department of Energy (DOE) has distributed $13.5 million in incentive payments to 55 hydroelectric facilities through the Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program – marking a record number of recipients, 18 of which were new applicants.

The Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program supports hydropower development by providing funding for electricity generated and sold from dams and other water infrastructure throughout the United States that add or expand hydroelectric power generating capabilities. 

“The Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program encourages the continued growth of a critical clean energy resource to help meet our nation’s climate goals,” said Alejandro Moreno, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Power. “By supporting a record number of facilities across the country, these payments will help to ensure hydropower will be a reliable source of renewable power for years to come.”

Hydropower accounts for 31.5% of US renewable electricity generation and about 6.3% of US electricity generation. However, less than 3% of the nation’s more than 90,000 dams produce power. Adding generation equipment to these sites could add up to 12% more hydropower capacity to the U.S. electric system and provide reliable, affordable power to communities across the nation.

This is the first year DOE expanded eligibility criteria for this program to include facilities located in communities with inadequate electric service. As a result, five newly eligible hydroelectric facilities received incentive payments.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included $125 million to expand the Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program. With the inclusion of these new funds, future management of the Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program will transfer from DOE’s Water Power Technologies Office to the new Grid Deployment Office, whose mission focuses on maintaining and investing in critical generation facilities and improving and expanding transmission and distribution systems.

“Water power is a critical resource for generating clean electricity and is crucial to reaching President Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050,” said Maria Robinson, Director of the Grid Deployment Office. “Investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law recognize that hydroelectricity is essential to strengthening the power grid and providing reliable, clean, and affordable energy for our communities. Funding through the Hydroelectric Incentive Program will enhance existing hydropower facilities through capital improvements focused on grid resiliency, dam safety, and environmental improvements, making hydropower facilities more energy efficient and resilient.”

The Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program was authorized by Congress through Section 242 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Congress first directed funding to the program in 2014 and has directed funding to the program annually since then through the appropriations process.

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