The Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of the Army through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (collectively the “Agencies”) signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Hydropower on March 24, 2010, and extended it on March 24, 2015 for another five years. The MOU is helping meet the nation’s needs for reliable and affordable hydropower with minimal environmental impacts by strengthening a long-term working relationship, prioritizing similar goals, and aligning ongoing and future renewable energy development efforts between the Agencies.
The MOU established 13 overarching goals for sustainable hydropower generation and identified a specific set of activities that the Agencies collectively would undertake to elevate the goal of increased hydropower generation. These commitments were designed to represent a new approach to hydropower development that would result in clean, renewable power generation while avoiding or reducing environmental impacts. From 2010 to 2015, through collaboration and partnerships with other federal agencies, the hydropower industry, the research community, and numerous stakeholders, the Agencies successfully fulfilled the commitments and promise of the original MOU.
Examples of these accomplishments include:
- Completed numerous publically available assessments of different hydropower resources, including the construction of a database for all existing U.S. hydropower infrastructure.
- Developed tools for optimizing the operation of hydropower facilities and evaluating the potential for state-of-the-art upgrades and modernizations.
- Funded several research projects that aim to develop and demonstrate new hydropower generation technologies and minimize the environmental impacts of hydropower facilities.
- Developed and implemented an integrative approach to assess complementary hydropower and environmental opportunities through Basin-Scale Opportunity Assessments.
- Established a Federal Inland Hydropower Working Group, including staff from 15 federal entities that are involved with hydropower in order to share information and increase collaboration.
- Improved the licensing process for the development of new, privately owned hydropower generation at existing federal dams and water infrastructure.
Since these efforts were initiated, there has been an upsurge in non-federal hydropower development at federal facilities. To build upon the successes accomplished through this interagency partnership, the Agencies renewed their commitment in 2015 with a second phase of collaboration outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding for Hydropower – Sustainable Hydropower Action Plan (Phase II). The second phase of collaboration seeks to support the Administration’s goals for doubling renewable energy generation by 2020 and improving federal permitting processes. Through continued collaboration, the Agencies intend to continue working toward the objectives and goals of the MOU.