Today, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) announced the Hydropower Permit Extension, or “HYPE” Act, to cut red tape in the construction permitting process for hydropower projects and incentivize greater investment in carbon-free hydropower. The bill gives already-approved hydropower projects an extra year on their initial permit to begin construction. It also grants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the authority to give hydropower projects a four-year extension if delays prevent them from beginning construction during the initial permit. Most hydropower projects do not require the full length of the permit to begin construction, but for those that experience delays, this bill will give them a larger window. Right now, it requires an act of Congress to extend construction permits for hydropower projects, even though these projects have already undergone rigorous approval processes.
“Hydropower is one of the few carbon-free energy sources that provides a steady base load of electricity. Producing more electricity from hydropower is central to meeting our clean energy goals and reducing harmful emissions that pollute our air and water and contribute to climate change,” said Rep. Scott Peters. “The ultimate solution to unlocking hydropower is to streamline the regulatory process so that projects can be approved more quickly while still meeting high environmental standards. But in the meantime, this bill will ensure that more of the hydropower projects that are approved get built.”
Rep. Peters continued, “For projects that are delayed and unable to break ground under their first permit, this bill will give them the certainty that they will not need to rely on Congress to get an extension. Making them start from scratch because of a delay doesn’t help the communities that want the clean power or the firms that have already made an investment to secure the permit in the first place. This commonsense fix will improve flexibility to incentivize greater investment in hydropower as we move towards a clean energy future.”
The HYPE Act lengthens preliminary construction permits for hydropower projects from three years to four years. It also lengthens from two years to four years the extension that FERC can grant to projects that experience delays. Overall, this lengthens from five years to eight years the total preliminary construction permit for hydropower projects that have been approved for construction.