The United States currently gets 7% of its electricity—and 37% of its renewable electricity generation—from hydropower facilities, which provide a reliable and flexible source of carbon-free power. Hydropower also provides critical energy storage, and pumped storage hydropower accounts for 93% of all utility-scale energy storage in the United States. Hydropower is key to building a 100% clean energy future. But as today’s facilities age and become more expensive to maintain, the United States risks losing a major source of clean energy and well-paying jobs.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), provides funding to ensure the United States advances and deploys new technologies while keeping existing clean energy sources online. The BIL provides $125 million in additional funding for the Section 242: Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program. In addition, BIL provides nearly $630 million for the Section 243: Hydroelectric Efficiency Improvement Incentives Program and Section 247: Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectricity Incentives Program to enable facilities to improve:

  • Efficiency.
  • Grid resiliency.
  • Dam safety.
  • Environmental conditions.

On June 30, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy released a request for information to solicit feedback from a wide range of stakeholders on the structure of the Section 243 and Section 247 programs, timing and distribution of funds, definitions of capital improvements, and selection criteria. Comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. EDT on September 6, 2022, and can be submitted to WPTORFI@ee.doe.gov.

There will be a public webinar on the request for information on Tuesday, August 9, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Registration is available online.

In addition to funding for these incentive programs, the BIL authorizes $146.4 million for fiscal years 2022–2025 for water power research led by the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO). The breakout of this funding is $36 million for hydropower and $70.4 million for marine energy, including $40 million for the National Marine Energy Centers. Additionally, the BIL provides up to $10 million for a pumped storage hydropower demonstration project and establishes specific eligibility criteria for the project which can be found under Section 40334.

What Is the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law?

The $1.2 trillion legislation which President Biden signed into law on Nov. 15, 2021, is a long-term investment in the nation’s infrastructure, workers, families, and competitiveness.

The BIL includes more than $62 billion for DOE to deliver a more equitable clean energy future for the American people by:

  • Investing in American manufacturing and workers.
  • Expanding access to energy efficiency and clean energy for families, communities, and businesses.
  • Delivering reliable, clean, and affordable power to more Americans.
  • Building the technologies of tomorrow through clean energy demonstrations.

With this historic investment, DOE will create 60 new programs, including 16 demonstration and 32 deployment programs, and expand funding for 12 existing research, development, demonstration, and deployment programs.

How Do I Learn More About Hydropower Incentive Opportunities?

The BIL directs funding to three hydropower incentive programs:

The Section 242 and Section 243 programs were authorized by Congress through the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Since 2014, Congress has directed funding annually through the appropriations process for the Section 242 program. The BIL directed funding to the Section 243 program for the first time and also amended the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to create and fund the section 247 program.

DOE is also leading several other programs of potential interest to water power stakeholders from BIL, including programs to upgrade grid infrastructure and support technology manufacturing projects in coal communities.

Visit energy.gov/BIL for more information about BIL-funded activities at DOE.

Stay tuned! DOE is seeking to establish formal processes for qualifying facilities to request funds under the hydropower incentive provisions of the BIL.

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