June, 2016

The Regulatory Noose

Logan City's Adventures in Micro-Hydropower
  • Megan Hansen

    Research Director, Center for Growth and Opportunity, Utah State University
  • Randy Simmons

  • Ryan Yonk

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Find the full article at Energies.

Recent growth in the renewable energy industry has increased government support for alternative energy. In the United States, hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy and also one of the most efficient. Currently, there are 30,000 megawatts of potential energy capacity through small- and micro-hydro projects throughout the United States. Increased development of micro-hydro could double America’s hydropower energy generation, but micro-hydro is not being developed at the same rate as other renewable sources. Micro-hydro is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and subject to the same regulation as large hydroelectric projects despite its minimal environmental impact. We studied two cases of micro-hydro projects in Logan, Utah, and Afton, Wyoming, which are both small rural communities. Both cases showed that the web of federal regulation is likely discouraging the development of micro-hydro in the United States by increasing the costs in time and funds for developers. Federal environmental regulation like the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and others are likely discouraging the development of clean renewable energy through micro-hydro technology.