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S.1462 - Clean Energy Bills




 

 

Statement of Michael L. Connor, Commissioner

Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Department of the Interior

Before the

Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senate

Subtitle D of the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009,

S. 1462 (111th Congress)

March 31, 2011

 

Chairman Bingaman, Ranking Member Murkowski and Members of the Committee, I am Mike

Connor, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). I am pleased to be here

alongside the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

(FERC) to provide the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on the Reclamationspecific

provisions in Subtitle D of the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009, S. 1462

from the 111th Congress. This subtitle promotes the integration of energy and water policies to

address the challenges that exist in making sustainable use of finite natural resources. Two

sections of this bill call for specific deliverables from Reclamation: Section 143 and Section 144.

Reclamation is continuing to explore ways to improve energy efficiencies within the scope of its

projects.

 

Section 143: Energy Usage Study

 

Section 143 directs Reclamation to conduct a study on the quantities of energy used in water

storage and delivery operations in major Reclamation projects, with an emphasis on identifying

opportunities to reduce water and energy consumption and costs. The energy usage study

required by Section 143 may provide a helpful data point for project managers and water

customers. Facilitating sustainability of the Nation’s natural resources is one of the Department’s

highest priorities. Through our WaterSMART program, the Department is committed to

integrating energy and water policies to promote the sustainable use of all resources, including

incorporating water conservation criteria and the water/energy nexus into the Department’s

planning efforts, including recommendations to reduce conflict in water management. Within

existing operations and budget authority, Reclamation strives to operate its projects with the

maximum amount of energy efficiency, and Reclamation is working to meet a Departmental

Priority Goal for Water Conservation through implementation of the WaterSMART Program.

This program was created by Secretarial Order 3297, issued on February 22, 2010 (available at

http://elips.doi.gov/app_SO/act_getfiles.cfm?order_number=3297). WaterSMART specifically

recognizes that water and energy are inextricably linked and that water conservation can yield

significant energy conservation benefits too.

 

WaterSMART Grants and Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse projects funded in FY 2010

are expected to enable the conservation of an estimated 149,000 acre-feet of water each year

once complete. Fiscal Year 2011 grants are awaiting completion of the appropriations process.

With funds requested in FY 2012, we will seek to increase the 2010 total by an additional

140,000 acre-feet. The energy savings associated with this conservation will vary greatly from

project to project, but a study focused across the Reclamation program is likely to provide

valuable context for Reclamation’s water conservation efforts generally and identify new

opportunities for increasing efficiency.

 

Overall, Reclamation has already been actively integrating energy and water policies under its

existing activities. Under the WaterSMART Program’s Water and Energy Efficiency Grants,

which fund projects that help to meet the Priority Goal for Water Conservation, Reclamation

incentivizes the conservation of energy in the delivery of water. Proposals that not only address

water conservation but also explore the use of renewable energy and other energy efficiency

improvements receive additional consideration during the selection process. In Fiscal Year

2010, through its WaterSMART program, Reclamation awarded 37 water and energy efficiency

grants for amounts as high as $1 million, including a number of funded proposals that explored

the relationship between water efficiency improvements and energy savings. We aim to continue

these WaterSMART projects in FY 2011. If the legislation before the Committee today were

enacted, the study authorized by Section 143 would need to compete for resources within the

existing Reclamation program.

 

Section 144: Uses of the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility

 

Section 144 calls for specific research objectives and authorizes operation, management,

maintenance, and cost recovery at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research

Facility (Facility) in Otero County, New Mexico. The directives in Section 144 relative to the

Facility in New Mexico would be consistent with ongoing activities at the Facility. Reclamation

is partnered with New Mexico State University in a four-year research program with projects at

or associated with the Facility focused on research, education, and outreach in water

desalination. The bill language calls on Reclamation to operate and manage the Facility as a

state-of-the-art desalination research center to develop new water and energy technologies with

widespread applicability, and create new supplies of usable water for municipal, agricultural,

industrial, or environmental purposes. The bill also authorizes Reclamation to collect charges to

offset the costs of operating and maintaining the Facility.

 

As members of the Committee may know, one of the authorities to operate and maintain the

Facility stems from Public Law 104-298, as amended, commonly known as the Water

Desalination Act of 1996. The Desalination Act has been funding research at the lab scale

leading to pilot and demonstration testing at the Facility. The Facility, as well as Reclamation’s

desalination program generally, provides a venue for the award of competitive, cost-shared

cooperative agreements with universities and public and private sector organizations for the

purpose of research on converting unusable waters into usable water supplies. The Facility

represents an avenue to advance the real-world potential of water desalination. The Desalination

Act’s current authority expires at the end of the 2011 fiscal year, and its extension by the

Congress for a term of five years could enable this important research to continue. Providing

these authorities could help Reclamation develop water-related technologies and other water

management practices and may also potentially enhance U.S. competitiveness in providing

solutions to world-wide water issues in the 21st century. We look forward to working with the

Congress on S. 1462 to avoid duplication of activities that are already being performed by the

Bureau of Reclamation.

 

This concludes my written statement. I am pleased to answer any questions the Committee may

have.

 

 

Return to Hearings and Testimony of the 112th Congress

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