Securing our nation’s clean energy future means unlocking the potential of hydropower to fight climate change.

Hydropower is the nation's largest source of renewable energy. Despite hydropower's clean energy benefits, it can take a hydropower project up to 10 years or more to get through the licensing process, while other emissions-emitting energy sources can be approved in a fraction of the time.

We shouldn’t be satisfied with a government process that stifles our most important renewable energy resource.

Together, let’s make affordable, carbon-free electricity available to more Americans.


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The U.S. Department of Energy newly released Hydropower Vision report finds that hydropower has the potential to increase  by nearly 50 gigawatts by 2050.

The U.S. Department of Energy newly released Hydropower Vision report finds that hydropower has the potential to increase  by nearly 50 gigawatts by 2050.

Industry Leaders Call for Energy Bill  to Include Licensing Improvements

As the Energy Congressional Conference Committee prepares to resolve the differences between the House and Senate energy bills (Energy Policy Modernization Act S. 2012), the National Hydropower Association (NHA), American Public Power Association (APPA), Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Large Public Power Council (LPPC), and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) urged conferees to include provisions to modernize the hydropower licensing process. 

In the letter, they called for the following priority improvements to be included in the final conference report:

  • Directing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to lead the coordination of the many approvals needed for hydropower projects and to work with agencies and other licensing participants to set timely schedules;
  • Holding all participants to the schedule by including mechanisms that provide consequences for undue or unjustified delays, while also providing sufficient resources and time for decision‐ makers to complete their work
  • Protecting and improving on the important licensing improvements achieved in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 for trial‐type hearing and alternative conditions
  • Clarifying that certain mandatory conditioning authority is limited to addressing actual project effects
  • Providing new, more efficient approval processes for targeted categories of much needed and low‐impact projects, such as environmentally beneficial license amendments, building on non‐ powered dams, and closed‐loop pumped storage

50 by 2050: Pathways for Growth

The U.S. Energy Department's Hydropower Vision Report shows that clean and renewable hydropower is available and can play a larger role in securing our clean energy future. The report finds that hydropower’s capacity can increase by nearly 50 gigawatts by 2050 in the following areas:

  •  4.8 GW of new development on non-powered dams
  •  6.3 GW in upgrades on existing hydropower
  •  35.5 GW of new pumped storage projects
  •  1.7 GW in new stream-reach development

Click here to view Infographic

Hitting the Reset Button: Hydropower’s Vision for Growth

The U.S. Department of Energy’s newly released report, Hydropower Vision: A New Chapter for America’s 1st Renewable Electricity Source, projects that hydropower can grow by 50 GW of capacity by 2050. Reaching this target would power millions more homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by billions of metric tons, all while more than doubling the nation’s energy storage. This first-of-its kind analysis demonstrates that hydropower’s growth potential real and tangible. 

In Congress, we are close making this a reality. The energy bill (Energy Policy Modernization Act S. 2012), which contains provisions to bring the process into the 21st century, is currently being debated by a Congressional Conference Committee. However, to get this bill signed into law we need your voice. We encourage you to reach out to your member of Congress and encourage them to unlockhydro.

As a nation, we have a clear choice to make about our clean energy future. Will we stand still or unlock hydropower’s potential?

Senate Passes Energy Bill to UnlockHydro

With the nation searching for clean energy solutions, the Senate overwhelmingly passed an energy bill to UnlockHydro. The Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012) contains bipartisan hydropower licensing provisions designed to make the process more timely, coherent and collaborative. Currently, it can take up to a decade or more to permit the nation’s largest source of renewable electricity.  Click here to read bill provisions

Without question, policymakers and clean energy advocates are recognizing hydropower's value, its growth potential and the role it can play in fighting climate change. Bringing predictability and coordination to the licensing process is good public policy that will help the nation to further reduce its carbon footprint.

While today’s passage is a significant step forward, we still need to work to ensure the final legislation signed by the President breaks the status quo that is stifling investment in existing hydropower projects and new development.

Click on the TAKE ACTION button to send a letter to your Congressman. Together, we can UnlockHydro!

NYT Op-ed: Stop Wasting America’s Hydropower Potential

By Senator Lisa Murkowski and Jay Faison

New York Times, Jan 14, 2016

President Obama has described climate change as one of the biggest challenges facing our country and has said he is open to new ideas to address it. He can start by supporting legislation to increase the nation’s hydropower capacity, one of our vital renewable energy resources.

Click here to read the op-ed


House Passes Bill to Bring Hydropower Licensing Process into the 21st Century

Recognizing hydropower’s contribution to reducing the nation’s carbon footprint, the National Hydropower Association today applauded passage of the bipartisan hydropower regulatory improvement provisions as part of the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act (H.R.8). These provisions break the licensing process status quo that has stifled the growth of the nation’s largest source of renewable electricity.

The hydropower provisions are designed to make the process more timely, coherent and collaborative by promoting predictability and requiring timely decisions by regulators—all without narrowing the authorities of federal and state resources agencies and Indian tribes under existing federal environmental laws. 

Hydropower Industry Leaders Send Letter to House Leadership Dispelling False Claims About Licensing Modernization Provisions

Leaders of the hydropower industry sent a letter to U.S. House leadership today calling for passage of provisions included in the energy bill approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee that would bring the hydropower licensing process into the 21st century. 

In the letter, the National Hydropower Association (NHA), American Public Power Association, Edison Electric Institute, Large Public Power Council, and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association herald the bipartisan hydropower provisions in the bill as “much needed, but modest steps designed to make this clean energy source a more attractive choice,” and call for the end of the “inaccurate rhetoric surrounding the hydropower provisions” recently instigated by opponents of hydropower and the many public benefits it provides.  

View the Letter →

Counterpoint: Hydropower is a star among renewables

Moreover, common-sense legislation to streamline licensing would help bring more of these clean-energy plants online. 

Linda Church Ciocci, NHA Executive Director  
Minneapolis Star Tribune
November 18, 2015

With the nation searching for clean energy solutions, a recent commentary by Ron Way (“Is hydropower green? Not really,” Nov. 15) asked Minnesotans a valid question: Is hydropower green? The author’s conclusion, however, is at odds with the facts, the Department of Energy and the American people. Hydropower isn’t just a renewable — it’s the nation’s largest source of renewable energy, accounting for half of all generation of renewable energy.

Read the Op-Ed →

Fighting Climate Change

How is hydropower helping to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint?

Reducing emissions with hydropower →

Hydropower's Potential

Isn't hydropower tapped-out?

The potential of hydropower →

Our Clean
Energy Future

What's holding us back?

Clean hydropower energy →

Modernization Concerns DEBUNKED

Modernizing the licensing process to unlockhydro is good public policy that will help the nation fight climate change. Contrary to the misinformation being disseminated by some, neither of bipartisan modernization bills weakens or eliminates the authority of federal and state resource agencies to require hydropower operators to mitigate the effects of their projects. The legislation is designed to protect states’ rights and environmental values. We want you to have the facts.  So we’ve put together a deep-dive analysis into the legislation to correct the record. Click the button to learn more...