Some very noteworthy things have happened this month in the world(s) of small hydro and hydrokinetics in the United States. Here’s a quick summary:

1.         U.S. Departments of Energy and the Interior Award ~$17 Million for Advanced Hydropower R&D. On September 6, 2011, Secretaries Chu and Salazar announced that the two agencies will provide nearly $17 million in funding over three years for research and development projects to advance hydropower technology. The money was awarded to 16 projects in 11 states through a competitive grant process first announced at the National Hydropower Association conference in April 2011. Congratulations to the winners:


·         Sustainable Small Hydro Projects: Earth by Design, Hydro Green Energy (2 awards), Percheron Power, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Near Space Systems, Natel Energy, New Mexico State University, Walker Wellington, and Weisenberger Mills.


·         Sustainable Pumped Storage Hydropower: Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Argonne National Laboratory.


·         Environmental Mitigation Technologies for Conventional Hydropower: Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Regents of the University of Minnesota.


·         System Testing at Bureau of Reclamation Facility: Natel Energy.


For more on the announcement and the categories considered under the Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0000486), see my blog covering the announcement from April 2011. 


2.         FERC Approves First Small Hydro Project Under MOU with Colorado. In August of 2010, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) and the State of Colorado signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) which has finally borne fruit. On September 14, 2011, FERC granted a license exemption for the 23 kW Meeker Wenschhof hydroelectric project (FERC Docket No. P-14230), to be located on an existing irrigation pipeline near the town of Meeker in Rio Blanco County. This is the first project approved by FERC under the new simplified procedures adopted under the MOU. The approval took a mere 2 months. The announcement can be found here. For FERC’s press release, click here. To read more about the MOU, see my blog from last year which includes a summary and a link to the MOU.


3.         The Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Promotion Act of 2011 Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. On September 21, 2011, Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA), together with Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK), introduced H.R. 2994, legislation that would boost research grants, loans and tax incentives available for scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs working to develop and deploy ocean-generated energy in the United States. Mr. Deutch’s district (Florida 19) is home to the Southeast Marine Renewable Energy Center located at Florida Atlantic University. The bill has been referred to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee. For the full text of the bill, click here.