Uncommon Dialogue | Hydropower, River Restoration, and Public Safety
Approximately 2,500 out of the 90,000 dams in the federal National Inventory of Dams include hydropower facilities. Across the United States, dams serve many roles including electricity generation, flood control, irrigation, navigation, water supply, and recreation. Some dams, however, pose safety risks if they have not been properly maintained or have out-lived their useful lives. In 2018 Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment convened a group of key stakeholders for a series of dialogues designed to advance the renewable energy and storage benefits of hydropower while enhancing the environmental and economic benefits of healthy rivers.
Participants in the Uncommon Dialogue on Hydropower, River Restoration, and Public Safety included non-governmental organizations, hydropower companies, trade associations, government agencies, universities, and investors.
Their 2020 Joint Statement of Collaboration and a related action plan led to legislation based on the group's recommendations introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate. A letter to President Biden was written and signed by 40 Members of Congress recommending that the Dialogues’ agreement and action plan be included in the Administration’s infrastructure proposal. The action plan and follow-on working group activity provided key insights that formed the basis for funding provisions related to dams and hydropower in the 2022 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. That funding will provide more than $3 billion to fund improvements to make more electricity as well as removal of outdated dams.