June 8 2010
There are over 30 American states with Renewable Portfolio (or Electricity) Standards designed to encourage the production of renewable power (wind, solar, etc). While the targets and the definitions of “qualified renewable power” vary from state-to-state, one common denominator has been limiting the statutory definition of “qualified hydropower” only to electricity generated by smaller-scale hydro facilities.
Two reasons have usually been cited by environmentalists to justify the disqualification of large scale hydropower. One is the environmental impact of new hydro dams. The second is that a growing supply of clean, reliable, low cost electricity from large scale hydro projects constitutes “unfair competition” that will discourage the development of less reliable, higher cost electricity from wind, solar and other renewable power sources.