Cantwell Secures “Early Action” Infrastructure Provision In Water Package

Hydropower provision would incentivize “Early Action” investment in infrastructure, providing long-term value to consumers

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA).  As part of this Act, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, secured the inclusion of a hydropower provision that incentivizes utilities to take “Early Action” to implement upgrades that benefit ratepayers and the environment.

“Giving our utilities the flexibility to better plan ahead will keep our energy sources safe and save taxpayers money,” said Senator Cantwell. “My “Early Action” provision is just common sense.  It allows for the necessary investments to our existing infrastructure, while creating jobs for our communities.”

Currently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) doesn’t give credit to
hydropower licensees for making proactive investments in upgrading infrastructure before relicensing, which potentially incentivizes licensees to defer costly improvements until they can be counted as part of a new license package. The provision in the AWIA bill encourages proactive stewardship that will ultimately benefit consumers. 

Senator Cantwell’s “Early Action” provision was previously included in the Energy and Natural Resources Act (S. 1460) that passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this Congress.

For Washington State, this provision would allow public utility districts to make investments in projects that would provide long-term value to the ratepayers. For example, the Chelan County Public Utility District (Chelan PUD) would be able to rehabilitate all the hydro generating units at its Rock Island Hydroelectric Project- a significant investment of over $500 million dollars.  

“The passage of this legislation is a game changer for ratepayers across the country. It incentivizes utilities to take “Early Action” that benefits the environment rather than waiting years until the Relicensing process starts. Chelan PUD and countless others applaud Senator Cantwell’s leadership,” said Steve Wright, General Manager of Chelan County PUD. 

The “Early Action” provision passed in the House Water package and will be considered in the Senate next.