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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 1, 2020 10:20 AM
From: Representative Michael J. Puskaric
To: All House members
Subject: Microhydropower Pilot Program Legislation former HB2034
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that establishes:

Consolidated General Microhydropower Permit:
This is a new “one-stop-shop” permit which will encompass all necessary permits that are required by federal or state law relating to the implementation of microhydropower technology. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will then be required to approve or deny an application within 60 days of the application being filed. If DEP does not meet the timeline but adheres to the proper notification procedures, DEP will be allotted an additional 30-day extension.

Microhydropower Pilot Program:
This 5-year Pilot Program will aim to better understand the capabilities of microhydropower as a reliable and efficient form of energy generation. This Pilot Program will allow state-related and state-aided universities and colleges along with municipal and local authorities, and agencies of the Commonwealth to implement this technology.

There will be a one-time appropriation of $5 million which will be deposited into a newly created restricted account in the General Fund. At the end of the Pilot Program, all excess and unused money will be deposited back into the General Fund, and the restricted account will no longer exist.

The Commonwealth will be responsible for funding 80% of the total costs associated with the implementation and maintenance of a microhydropower generator for the duration of the Pilot Program. This requires the approved applicant to pay the remaining 20%. For the duration of an approved applicant’s participation in the Pilot Program, all approved applicants will be prohibited from receiving compensation from any electric distribution company.

An annual report is required to be submitted by DEP to the Environmental Resources and Energy Chairs of both the House and the Senate on the progress of the program.

Microhydropower Tax Credit:
The Department of Community and Economic Development will establish a tax credit, which will end for taxable years after December 31, 2029, to encourage private investment in the utilization of nontraditional forms of renewable energy, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the overall proliferation of clean energy generation and consumption in this Commonwealth. However, only approved applicants that are no longer or have never participated in the Pilot Program are considered eligible for this credit. The credit may be applied for a total of 3 years against up to 30% of qualified tax liabilities incurred while implementing a generator.

The generators which are classified as microhydropower are up to 100 kilowatts, making them small, affordable run-of-river forms of hydropower. With 86,000 miles of rivers and streams stretching through every county, microhydropower technology can catapult Pennsylvania into energy independence for generations. Currently, 35% of renewable energy in Pennsylvania comes from hydropower facilities averaging 60 years old. This lowers the rate of return due to increased costs in operation and maintenance. Pennsylvania dams’ operation and maintenance costs were at least $2.4 million annually. Microhydropower generators rarely need maintenance, but when maintenance is required the costs are well belong $1 million.

Please join in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB319