Gardner introduces bill to reauthorize hydroelectric retrofit program

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) reintroduced legislation this week to reauthorize a federal program that supports retrofitting dams and river infrastructure with technology that generates hydroelectricity.

With just 3 percent of the nation’s 80,000 dams outfitted with hydroelectric technology, there’s an estimated 12 gigawatts of unrealized hydropower potential across the country, the Department of Energy (DoE) reports.

Gardner’s bill, the Reliable Investment in Vital Energy Reauthorization (RIVER) Act, would help realize that hydroelectric potential by reauthorizing a DoE program that supports hydroelectric retrofits of existing dams and river conduits.

“The RIVER Act is common sense legislation that is a key component to an all-of-the-above energy strategy,” Gardner said. “Since only three percent of the nation’s 80,000 dams are used to generate clean hydroelectric power, it’s important we have the tools to retrofit these existing dams to produce electricity. Colorado has been able to utilize this program in the past to bring hydropower to communities across the Western Slope, and I’m looking forward to working with interested stakeholders to bring new hydropower opportunities to more of Colorado.”

Kurt Johnson, the president of the Western Small Hydro Association, said Gardner understands how important hydroelectric power is.

“Sen. Gardner’s RIVER Act will help ensure that Colorado continues as a national leader in new small hydropower development on existing dams, canals and pipelines,” Johnson said. “We’re excited to support him as he works to get his legislation signed into law.”