"Hydropower harnesses the force of flowing water to generate electricity, and has many virtues as an energy resource. It is not only emissions-free and renewable; it is also capable of producing stable, reliable, and affordable baseload power. Right now, hydropower produces about six percent of our nation’s electricity and nearly half of our renewable energy. That is more than wind and solar combined, and enough electricity to power some 30 million American homes,” Murkowski said.
Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, pointed to her home state of Alaska as an example for the rest of the nation in the development of hydropower. She also spoke on her amendment that would expand an existing hydropower project at Terror Lake, Alaska.
“In Alaska, hydropower provides more than 20 percent of our electricity. It powers communities throughout our state. And we continue to have vast potential, with hundreds of sites just waiting to be developed,” Murkowski said. “My amendment would expand an existing project at Terror Lake, and allow the local community to remain powered almost entirely by renewable energy.”
Murkowski concluded her remarks by highlighting the vast potential that hydropower would bring to our nation, if we were able to fully utilize hydropower as a clean, renewable energy resource, by fixing the broken federal regulatory process. Murkowski pointed to the existing Carmen Smith project in Oregon as one example; it will take three times as long and cost ten times as much to relicense as it did to license the project in the first place, according to a recent editorial in the Eugene Register-Guard.
“Despite the tremendous benefits hydropower provides, and despite our tremendous untapped potential, American hydropower development has stalled because of red tape and environmental opposition,” Murkowski said. “We need to make the relicensing process more efficient by reducing bureaucratic and administrative delays that end up increasing electricity rates, slowing hydropower’s expansion, and actually delaying the adoption of environmental mitigation measures.”
During her remarks, Murkowski mentioned her joint op-ed with Jay Faison, entrepreneur and founder of the ClearPath Foundation, where they called for common sense policies that fully utilize our nation’s energy potential. She also expressed her hope that hydropower amendments by Sens. Gillibrand, Burr, Kaine, Barrasso, Flake, Feinstein, and Markey can be added to the bill in addition to Sen. Daines’s amendment that was already approved by the Senate.