WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda—a key pillar of Bidenomics—the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced 66 hydro facilities throughout the country will receive more than $38 million in incentive payments for electricity generated and sold. Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and with consideration of facilities located in communities with inadequate electric service, the payments provide funding for electricity generated and sold from dams and other water infrastructure that add or expand hydroelectric power generating capabilities. These incentive payments represent DOE’s largest investment in hydroelectric facilities to date. Hydropower, with existing infrastructure across the United States, is an essential component in helping achieve the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious clean energy goals.
“Hydropower is one of the nation’s original sources of renewable energy and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is providing transformative funding to help protect this existing clean energy infrastructure,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Today’s announcement supports waterpower’s continued growth while maintaining and expanding good-paying jobs and increasing access to affordable, clean power where it is needed most.”
Hydropower currently accounts for 28.7% of renewable electricity generation in the United States, as well as 93% of all utility-scale energy storage capacity. However, less than 3% of the nation’s more than 90,000 dams currently produce power. Adding generation equipment to these sites could add up to 12 gigawatts of new hydropower capacity to the U.S. electric system—enough to power 4.8 million homes.
The Hydroelectric Production Incentives, administered by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, are part of a comprehensive program funded by a $750 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the continued operation of the U.S. hydropower fleet and ensure a more reliable and resilient electric grid system. Other program offerings are the Hydroelectric Efficiency Improvement Incentives and Maintaining & Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives. Originally started in 2014 and expanded under the Biden-Harris Administration, Hydropower Incentives have been used to support operations and maintenance, fees and service debts, exploration of new small hydropower opportunities, as well as salary and benefits for the hydropower workforce.
A full list of selected entities is available here.
Today, DOE also released the reimagined Hydropower Vision Roadmap, led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office. With the release of the Hydropower Vision report (Vision) in 2016, DOE made a commitment to the hydropower community to make the Vision a living document. To uphold that commitment, WPTO and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory reimagined the Vision’s roadmap with the support of the hydropower community. The Vision stated that with continued technology advancements, innovative market mechanisms, and a focus on environmental sustainability, U.S. hydropower could grow from its current 101 gigawatts (GW) to nearly 150 GW of combined electricity generating and storage capacity by 2050. The roadmap lays out the specific activities identified by the hydropower community to achieve those goals by 2050.