The Rural Energy Initiative Program for Small Hydropower--Is It Working?

EMD-80-66: Published: Apr 1, 1980. Publicly Released: Apr 3, 1980.

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The Rural Energy Initiative (REI) Program goals are to develop and commercialize small-scale hydroelectric power. In May 1979, the President announced the REI Program with overall objectives of stimulating the development of and dispersed approach to local rural energy development and use. As an integral part of the Program, the administration announced an interagency agreement to bring together the technical assistance and engineering and financial resources of several agencies to develop small hydropower projects at existing dams in rural America. Although the administration's REI Program is an interagency effort intended to agressively pursue and accelerate the development of small hydropower, there has not been any significant progress. The basic framework for a sound and effective program is proper planning and management control.

Although an REI interagency agreement has been prepared, specific action plans and milestones have generally not been proposed for assuring that each agency's contribution will help achieve the overall Program objective. Further, the approach taken to identify sites duplicates current Federal efforts and requires energy projects to meet nonenergy criteria. In addition, applicants face multi-agency reviews which can deter expeditious development of projects. Considering these problems and the fact that only one project has been funded, it is doubtful whether the Program will meet its goal of having 100 projects under construction by the end of fiscal year 1981. Because of the seriousness of the Nation's energy problems, the administration should be pursuing and expediting hydropower development on its own merits as a energy resource.

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    Priority Open Recommendations:

    Department of Energy
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