Saturday, April 13, 2024

Senate Passes Bill to Protect Red River Hydropower Projects

by BIZ Magazine

The Senate has approved legislation championed by Senators John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) aimed at safeguarding two crucial hydropower construction projects along Louisiana’s Red River in the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway.

The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, seeks to extend hydropower construction permits for both projects, providing them with additional time to commence construction and contribute to Louisiana’s energy infrastructure.

“Hydropower is an important part of our all-of-the-above energy policy, and these projects would bring construction jobs to our state. It would be foolish to allow supply chain issues from the pandemic to derail Louisiana’s hydropower developments,” emphasized Kennedy.

Cassidy echoed Kennedy’s sentiments, highlighting the significance of hydropower as a reliable, safe, and responsible energy source. He expressed satisfaction that Congress was able to cut through bureaucratic red tape hindering the progress of the Red River and Overton Lock projects.

The legislation addresses the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to unforeseen delays in construction projects due to supply chain disruptions and increased labor costs. With FERC’s hydropower construction permits expiring after just 10 years, the bill aims to provide relief by allowing for permit extensions, recognizing the extended timelines required for project completion.

Louisiana is poised to benefit significantly from the development of these hydropower facilities, with the construction of the two projects expected to create hundreds of jobs in northwest Louisiana.

“With this extension, Louisiana would be able to bring these two projects online to provide additional sources of reliable, clean energy to Louisianians,” Kennedy remarked.

Hydropower is hailed as an affordable, reliable, and clean energy source that can bolster power grids, not just in Louisiana but across the nation. Without the legislative intervention proposed by Kennedy and Cassidy, Louisiana’s hydropower projects risked stalling, depriving surrounding communities of much-needed energy resources.

Kennedy’s role as the top Republican on the Senate’s Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee underscores his commitment to expanding America’s hydropower capabilities. His efforts secured significant investments in the nation’s dam and levee infrastructure, including funding to reinforce critical infrastructure along the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway.

Senate Democrats initially blocked broader legislation aimed at granting FERC the authority to extend permits for any hydropower construction projects impacted by pandemic-related delays. However, Kennedy’s leadership in negotiating a narrower bill ensured that Louisiana’s projects received the necessary permit extensions to move forward.

The bill will now proceed to the House of Representatives for further consideration, offering hope for continued progress in Louisiana’s hydropower sector.

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