Tipton Small Hydro Permitting Reform Bill Passes House

Apr 11th @ 8:13 am in News by Scott Staley

Scott Tipton

The Colorado Small Hydro Association (COSHA) praised U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) for his work on H.R. 678, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, which passed the House today by a vote of 416-7.

“COSHA applauds Rep. Tipton and the House of Representatives for again passing legislation that promotes development of small hydropower,” said COSHA President Kurt Johnson. “The final vote tally of 416-7 demonstrates the strong bipartisan support that small hydropower enjoys from policy-makers on Capitol Hill.”

In addition to Rep. Tipton, HR 678 co-sponsors include Representatives Amodei (R-NV), Coffman (R-CO), Costa (D-CA), Cramer (R-ND), Daines (R-MT), Gardner (R-CO), LaMalfa (R-CA), Lumis (R-WY), Gosar (R-AZ), McClintock (R-CA) and Smith (R-NE) – and House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Hastings (R-WA).


HR 678 will simplify permitting for small hydro development on Bureau of Reclamation facilities by eliminating duplicative environmental analysis on existing man-made Bureau of Reclamation conduits (pipes, ditches, and canals) that have already received a review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA),

Earlier this year on February 13th, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 267, the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, sponsored by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado), which passed the House by a vote of 422-0.   HR 267 creates a “regulatory offramp” for small hydro projects which otherwise would have previously been required to secure a federal permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

“Thanks to Representatives Tipton and DeGette, legislation significantly simplifying the two federal processes for small hydro permitting –through the Bureau of Reclamation and through FERC – has now passed the House by overwhelming margins, said COSHA President Kurt Johnson. “Colorado is blessed to have Congressional Representatives that understand the important role that small hydro can play in advancing Colorado’s clean energy and rural development goals.”

Colorado currently has hundreds of hydro-related jobs, a number which has the potential to grow rapidly if the pending hydro reform legislation can become law. The National Hydropower Association has estimated 5.3 jobs created per megawatt of new hydro construction.  COSHA estimates approximately 200 MW of potential new hydro development in Colorado, which would mean approximately 1000 new jobs created in Colorado, including jobs for developers, engineers, attorneys and financiers as well as concrete workers, plumbers, carpenters, welders and electricians.

As a next step, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on April 23, 2013 to discuss Senate companion versions of both the Tipton bill and the DeGette bill.

“Hopefully these non-controversial, long-overdue, common-sense, bipartisan hydro reform bills will quickly complete the legislative process and be signed into law,” added COSHA President Kurt Johnson.

About the Colorado Small Hydro Association (COSHA)

The Colorado Small Hydro Association is dedicated to accelerating development of small hydro in Colorado.  The 2013 COSHA Conference is scheduled to take place in Denver on Tuesday, July 23, 2013.   Additional information about COSHA is available at www.smallhydro.co.