Volume 4 Issue 9 October

A Strong Future for Hydro

By Kris Polly

This month, we have the honor of featuring an interview with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents Washington’s Fifth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Her eastern Washington background means she is well informed about the clean energy, irrigation water, and navigation and flood control benefits provided by hydropower dams. To further those benefits, she has introduced H.R. 4045, the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act, which if made law would recognize hydropower as a renewable resource, reform the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensing process, remove barriers to the expansion of hydropower development, and more.

Next, we speak with Daniel Wilson, the senior manager of hydro operations for Portland General Electric’s West Side Hydropower and Pelton Round Butte Projects. As he tells us, the utility is squarely focused on Oregon and the nation’s conversion to clean, renewable energy—and its hydropower fleet will be playing a key role in realizing that future.

Essex Hydro Associates operates a fleet of small hydro projects across New England. In our interview, CEO Madeleine Mineau explains why and how Essex Hydro has certified the majority of its facilities as low impact and how it works to protect fish.

Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative is another modestly sized energy provider with a commitment to clean energy and a strong sense of responsibility. Manager of Engineering David Peterson and Public Relations Manager Ted Austin tell us more about the co-op’s hydro facilities, public relations and educational programs, and more.

Natel designs specialized, fish-safe turbines and works to upgrade existing hydro projects and develop new ones. CEO Gia Schneider tells us more about Natel’s turbine design and how it helps to improve river connectivity.

New Energy Corporation has developed small, adaptable hydrokinetic turbines that are particularly suitable for remote, difficult-to-reach locations. With these devices, as President
and CEO Clayton Bear tells us, remote communities can take advantage of constant river flows to power schools, hospitals, and communications devices.

Finally, we speak with Hill Balliet, a senior researcher and program manager at Idaho National Laboratory, about his work on hybrid hydropower systems that incorporate batteries or ultracapacitors.

Hydropower is increasingly nimble and environmentally friendly. It will play a key role in electrification and the transition to clean energy. And congressional leaders such as Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers are helping to unleash its potential for the future.

Kris Polly is the editor-in-chief of Hydro Leader magazine and the president and CEO of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations firm he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at kris.polly@waterstrategies.com.