Friday, June 16, 2017
Billy Long: I agree with President Trump on energy
Renewable energy continues to be a topic of discussion in the news and in Congress. I am a member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, which has jurisdiction over our nation’s energy policy. The Subcommittee has held numerous hearings on modernizing energy infrastructure and expanding hydropower generation.
President Trump and I agree that the United States should have an all-of-the-above approach to energy. This includes investing in hydropower infrastructure that comes from the energy of moving water, a clean renewable resource. Currently there are over 90,000 dams in the U.S., yet less than three percent of these dams produce electricity. By 2025, 70 percent of these dams will be over 50 years old and in need of updating. President Trump ran on the promise of rebuilding American infrastructure. Updating our nation’s dams and expanding hydropower for existing dams is a common-sense opportunity to fulfill this promise and add more renewable domestic sources into our energy supply.
This non-polluting energy source converts 90 percent of the energy it creates into electric energy, yet hydropower accounts for just six percent of the country’s energy and less than half of the country’s electricity generation from renewable energy sources. With more investment into hydropower infrastructure, the Department of Energy (DOE) predicts that U.S. hydropower production could increase by almost 50 percent.
However, that requires updating out-of-date facilities and adding hydropower generation to dams not currently outfitted for electricity generation, which takes a considerable amount of time and money. The complex licensing process for updating and creating new hydropower plants can last over a decade and cost millions of dollars, which has led to delays in investments and obstructed projects altogether.
Hydropower does more than just provide a cleaner energy alternative. It also has promising advantages that will lead to more jobs and economic investment. According to the DOE, there will be 120,500 hydropower related jobs by 2050.
Missouri is no stranger to hydropower. Ameren, a Missouri based power company, owns two hydropower plants in Missouri: Bagnell Dam in Osage County and Taum Sauk Energy Center in Reynolds County. The Bagnell Dam produces as much power as 225,000 tons of coal or one million barrels of oil. The Taum Sauk Energy Center on the other hand is primarily used only when the demand for electricity is at an all-time high. This center is used on a peaking basis and allows for energy to be stored.
Hydropower is critical for an all-of-the-above approach to energy. Confronting the challenges of hydropower expansion head-on will benefit generations to come. As Congress begins to tackle infrastructure, I will work towards common-sense solutions to streamline the growth of hydropower projects that can help us achieve energy independence.