Wednesday, February 18, 2015

PA Environmental Council Releases Small Hydro Permitting Manual For PA

The PA Environmental Council Wednesday released the Hydroelectric Permitting Manual for Pennsylvania. This manual was created with the following goals in mind:
— Facilitate greater development of economically- and environmentally-feasible projects in PA by outlining the specific steps required for permitting, identifying the appropriate contacts, and clarifying the order of steps.
— Improve the quality and completeness of applications submitted to DEP and other agencies by outlining clear expectations.
— Eliminate projects that are not economically- or environmentally-feasible early in the process, by providing clearer guidance and access to resource agency staff.
With its abundant water resources and rolling topography, Pennsylvania provides ample opportunity for hydroelectric renewable energy development. However, feedback at the 2011 PA Hydropower Summit and one-on-one interviews with developers indicated that the complexity of permitting significantly increases the time and cost of a project.
This complexity poses a particular challenge to smaller projects located at water treatment plants, parks, and farms. These projects are also often smaller in size, meaning the owner is less likely to recoup the costs of legal services through revenue generated.  
In addition to the renewable energy benefits of hydroelectricity, are the potential co-benefits to the entities that own them and the communities in which they are located.
For example, a municipally-owned project has the potential to reduce its energy costs and/or generate revenue from excess electricity sold to the grid, freeing up funds for services like road maintenance, park improvements, and street lighting in Pennsylvania’s often cash-strapped municipalities.
PEC specifically supports “low-impact” hydropower development, which is not limited by size constraints but rather depends on a case-by-case analysis. PEC does not advocate for new dams and impoundments, but rather for use of existing impoundments, pipes, or natural water features.
This document was produced in close consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, as well as other regulatory agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Army Corps of Engineers, and the PA Historical and Museum Commission.
The Med-Ed/enelec Sustainable Energy Fund of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies supported the research and production of this Manual.
A copy of the Manual is available online.
For more information, visit PEC’s Hydropower Permitting webpage or contact Lindsay Baxter, PEC, by calling 412-481-9400 or sending email to:

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