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Letter To The Editor: Renewable Energy Supply From Hydroelectricity

Posted on 02 August 2017 by Howard Copelan

Over half of America’s renewable energy supply comes from hydroelectricity. More importantly, hydropower provides a solid base to maintain the reliability of the electricity grid. Hydropower can quickly go from zero power to full production making it extremely important to integrating intermittent wind and solar generation and exceptionally good at meeting rapidly changing consumer demand. By harnessing the energy of flowing water, hydropower provides safe, reliable, affordable carbon-free electricity.

Ironically, despite its century-long track record of clean energy production, State law does not recognize hydropower as “renewable”.

If, as a nation, we want to increase our use of solar and wind energy, we must also increase our use of hydropower and there is plenty of room for growth. According to a report by the United States Department of Energy, only 3% of the nation’s 80,000 dams currently generate electricity. We could increase our generating capacity by over 12,000 megaWatts by installing generators on existing dams. Think of the minimal negative environmental impact of adding generation to dams that already provide recreation, flood control and irrigation to grow food for a hungry world compared to the positive impact of generating enough renewable and affordable electricity to power more than 7.8 million homes.

In 2013, Congress unanimously passed, and President Obama signed, legislation to expedite licensing for building hydropower on existing dams. Nearly as miraculous as unanimous support in Congress was the fact that American Rivers, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to protecting and restoring rivers, and the hydropower industry both supported this legislation. Maybe that support reflects the overwhelming public support for hydropower. A poll by Princeton Research Associates International found that 81% of Americans believe that existing hydropower facilities should be maintained and 75% support expanding hydropower.

As the Board of Directors of Wells Rural Electric Company, we believe it’s well past time for Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to recognize hydropower as the flexible, reliable, affordable, renewable and carbon-free energy resource that it is.

Respectfully submitted,

by F. Scott Egbert, President

on behalf of The Board of Directors

Wells Rural Electric Company

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