Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124
04/08/2009 01:00 PM RESOURCES
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HJR 25-HYDROELECTRIC POWER; RENEWABLE ENERGY 2:52:11 PM CO-CHAIR NEUMAN announced that the final order of business would be HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 25, Urging the United States Congress to classify hydroelectric power as a renewable and alternative energy source. [Before the committee was CSHB 25(ENE).] 2:52:31 PM KACI SCHROEDER-HOTCH, Staff, Representative Bill Thomas, Alaska State Legislature, in response to Co-Chair Neuman, clarified that the bill version before the committee is labeled 26- LS0740\S (Version S). She paraphrased from the following written sponsor statement [original punctuation provided]: One of the most readily available sources of renewable energy in Alaska is hydroelectric power. Alaska has a vast amount of high elevation lakes and run-of-the- river systems which have the potential, in many areas, to completely displace diesel generated power with little to no environmental impact. Hydroelectric power is so abundant in Alaska that most areas of the state can make use of it in some form or another. With such a plentiful source of non-diesel generated power, it is unfortunate that the Federal Government does not have a working definition of renewable or alternative that includes hydroelectric power. This effectively cuts hydroelectric power projects off from many potential sources of federal funding, and therefore, hinders Alaska's efforts to displace diesel generated power. HJR 25 asks Congress to develop a working definition of renewable and alternative which includes hydropower so that reliable renewable energy policy can be developed, and valuable projects receive adequate support. I urge your support of HJR 25. 2:53:28 PM REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI asked what the federal government considers hydroelectric power to be if not renewable or alternative. MS. SCHROEDER-HOTCH responded, "Not renewable." In further response, she said hydroelectric is considered a means of power that is not renewable under federal law. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON understood that to qualify for renewable grants the power source must be classified as renewable; therefore, the problem is that grants for hydroelectric power cannot be applied for. MS. SCHROEDER-HOTCH answered correct. 2:54:51 PM REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI inquired whether this classification for hydroelectric power would include wave generation, tidal, and everything in between. MS. SCHROEDER-HOTCH replied that the resolution does not delineate, it only says hydroelectric. "So, that would include dams, run-of-the-river, everything," she continued. REPRESENTATIVE EDGMON added that the irony is that 8.4 percent of all power in the U.S. is renewable, and of the 8.4 percent, 6.2 percent comes from hydroelectric. He supported moving the resolution out of committee. CO-CHAIR NEUMAN opened public testimony. 2:56:19 PM TIM MCLEOD, President and General Manager, Alaska Electric Light and Power, stated that he has worked with Jodi Mitchell of Inside Passage Electric Association on developing energy solutions for Southeast Alaska. Because Ms. Mitchell had a meeting conflict, he conveyed the Inside Passage Electric Association's support for HJR 25. He stated that hydroelectric is a renewable, environmentally friendly resource, but that it was deliberately excluded from the list by the federal government. He said Alaska Electric Light and Power supports HJR 25. Juneau has been served by hydropower since 1893, he continued, and there is no reason to believe that the current hydro units will not still be running in another 100 years from now. MR. MCLEOD noted that there is tremendous potential for hydro projects throughout the state, of which he personally knows of 12 good projects that could be developed. However, there is a lack of funding through the federal government because of hydropower's nonrenewable classification. He expressed his concern that communities served by hydropower could experience further penalties because they will be unable to meet renewable energy portfolio standards that the federal government imposes in the future, despite Southeast Alaska having some of the greenest, cleanest energy in the world. It is important to get this resolution passed this session, he said. 2:59:18 PM CO-CHAIR NEUMAN assured Mr. McLeod that the legislature will be doing so. REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI agreed. He noted that when he thinks of renewable energy he thinks of solar panels first, wind second, and hydroelectric dams third. He said he therefore remains confused as to why hydroelectric is not classified as renewable. MR. MCLEOD responded that the federal government has just not classified hydroelectric as renewable energy for funding purposes or tax credit purposes. He said he believes it was deliberately not classified as renewable because of issues with some of the dams that have been constructed. 3:00:20 PM CO-CHAIR NEUMAN pointed out that the resolution asks that hydroelectric be considered renewable and alternative. MR. MCLEOD, in reference to Representative Kawasaki's list of three renewable energy sources, said he would put hydroelectric power as number one because it would take dozens and dozens of wind generators in a very windy area to match the Snettisham project alone. CO-CHAIR NEUMAN closed public testimony. REPRESENTATIVE TUCK said he will be offering an amendment on the floor and will work with the sponsor in this regard. CO-CHAIR JOHNSON moved to report CSHJR 25(ENE) out of committee with any individual recommendations and the attached zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSHJR 25(ENE) was reported from the House Resources Standing Committee.