Section 242 hydroelectric incentive program funding

Friday, December 18, 2015

For the first time, the U.S. Department of Energy has funding for its Section 242 hydroelectric incentive program.  The program, arising from Section 242 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005,  provides incentive payments for adding new turbines or other hydroelectric generating devices to existing sites. The Department is accepting applications for the incentive payments through February 1, 2016.

In 2005, as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress created the Section 242 hydroelectric incentive program to support the expansion of hydropower energy development at existing dams and impoundments.  Section 242 establishes an incentive for qualified hydroelectric facilities, defined as "a turbine or other generating device owned or solely operated by a non-Federal entity which generates hydroelectric energy for sale and which is added to an existing dam or conduit."  The incentive is set at up to 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour of net electric energy generated and sold by a qualified hydroelectric facility, indexed for inflation (about 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour today) up to a maximum of $750,000 per year, for a specified 10-year period.

To get this money, an owner or operator must apply for the incentive payments.  An application for an incentive payment for electric energy generated and sold in a calendar year must be filed during the applications period defined by the Department of Energy in the Federal Register.  But according to the Energy Department's final guidance for the Section 242 program, "DOE will accept applications and make payments to qualified hydroelectric facilities in years when appropriations are available for this purpose."  Until recently, no such appropriations were available.

In Congressional appropriations for Federal fiscal year 2015, the Department of Energy received funds to support this hydroelectric incentive program for the first time. As shown in the conference report to the law that made appropriations for Fiscal Year 2015, Congress appropriated $3,960,000 for conventional hydropower under section 242 of EPAct 2005.

With funding now available, the Energy Department is only accepting applications from owners and authorized operators of qualified hydroelectric facilities for hydroelectricity generated and sold in calendar year 2014. Applications for this round of Section 242 funding are due by February 1, 2016.

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