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Untapped:
How Regulation Stifles Small Hydropower Development


Electricity generated from hydropower has been the largest component of the United States’ renewable energy portfolio for over a century. Small and efficient hydropower installations have the potential to provide added amounts of clean and reliable renewable energy without substantial environmental impacts. The following materials explain the benefits of small hydropower and the obstacles to further development.

Total US Renewable Energy Production

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Hydropower is an important part of most renewable energy portfolios.

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Hydropower prevents

200 Million Tons

of CO2 from entering

the atmosphere

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But big dams can generate methane and hurt fish and natural streams.
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Small Hydropower is more

environmentally friendly

than Big Hydropower

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Small hydropower can generate electricity from:

Water Supply Pipes

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Irrigation Canals

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Existing Dams

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These structures already exist, so small hydro installations don’t hurt fish or natural streams to generate electricity from them.

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But with burdensome regulations, permits cost about $500,000 and take 3-8 years — making it too expensive for many landowners and communities.

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If policymakers reform this complicated licensing process for small hydropower,  more affordable, reliable, and renewable electricity can be generated.