PA Public Utilities Commission, National Association says hydropower is vital as part of water/stormwater facilities

19 July 2023- At the annual summer policy summit of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), a resolution sponsored by Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) Commissioner Ralph V. Yanora was unanimously adopted today by NARUC’s Board of Directors following approval by the NARUC Committee on Water, where Yanora serves as co-vice chairman.

Commissioner Yanora’s resolution – also supported by Water Committee Chairman Jeffrey A. Hughes, a Commissioner with the North Carolina Utilities Commission – urges states to support and facilitate the integration of hydropower as a part of Water/Wastewater/Stormwater facilities development, maintenance, and expansion. 

“Many states are innovating and adopting new technological and environmental quality standards that are aimed at promoting efficient water usage and increasing electricity generation through incorporating zero-emission hydropower into water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure,” noted Commission Yanora. “By incorporating low-impact hydroelectric technology to capture the kinetic energy of flowing water, integrating ‘smart’ information and communication technologies, and using a greater share of alternative energy to fuel operations, we have an opportunity to reduce the amount of energy used to deliver water and wastewater services and limit greenhouse gas emissions.”

The NARUC resolution notes that the treatment and delivery of water and wastewater services requires a significant amount of energy, representing approximately two percent of total energy use in the United States (according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).  And the share of energy used by those systems could grow significantly because of the antiquated and inefficient nature of U.S. water and wastewater infrastructure, increasing demand for expanded utility resources, supply chain constraints, and lack of state and municipal financial resources.

As a key part of the resolution, NARUC is recommending that states be provided with maximum flexibility to support the development of hydropower in water, wastewater and stormwater systems as the U.S. Department of Energy and other cooperating federal agencies determine appropriate distribution of funding – noting that the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 is providing approximately $50 billion dollars to help repair, improve and expand water and wastewater infrastructure, which can include incorporating renewable energy resources into those systems.

In summary, Commissioner Yanora described this concept as a win for everyone: “By taking full advantage of this unique opportunity to incorporate zero-emission hydropower as water and wastewater systems are improved and expanded, we can help promote more reliable service, stabilize rates for consumers, and lower carbon emissions for states and the country as a whole.”