S. 859 would amend existing law regarding incentive payments made by the Department of Energy (DOE) to nonfederal owners or operators of certain hydroelectric facilities. DOE currently is authorized to provide two types of incentives to eligible projects: payments based on the amount of hydroelectricity generated by the facility and payments that defray some of the cost of measures that improve the efficiency of existing facilities. For 2019, the Congress has provided nearly $7 million for generation-based payments; no funding was provided for hydroelectricity efficiency payments.
S. 859 would authorize the appropriation of $10 million annually over the 2019-2036 period for payments based on hydropower generation and another $10 million a year over that period for payments based on investments in hydropower efficiency measures. In addition, the bill would modify the deadlines and eligibility criteria for receiving such assistance.
Based on historical spending for similar activities, and assuming the appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO estimates that implementing S. 859 would cost $76 million over the 2020-2024 period and $176 million over the 2020-2029 period. The costs of the legislation (detailed in Table 1) fall within budget function 270 (energy).