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Arizona congressional lawmakers usher bill promoting hydropower through House

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(The Center Square)– Republican Rep. David Schweikert and Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton passed a bill in the United States House of Representatives to allow for more hydropower facilities to be potentially built in the Salt River reservoirs.

House Bill 1607, if passed into law, would allow the Salt River Project to look into how they can expand pumped storage for hydroelectricity. Specifically, it would move roughly 17,000 acres of land from the control of the U.S. Forest Service and place it under the purview of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which SRP is a project of, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“To try to get this visually: Picture a series of lakes that are our water reservoirs for the Phoenix area. And then these cliffs, that are just tremendously high, it’s a very impressive area, and the concept of using gravity as a battery,” Schweikert explained on the House floor.

“It actually allows us to take care of something that’s somewhat unique for us in the desert southwest, and that is the solar power we produce,” he added.

On Monday, the bill passed 384-1, with 47 lawmakers voting present. Republican New York Rep. George Santos was the only vote against the legislation, according to the House Clerk’s office.

“I’m proud the House overwhelmingly passed our bipartisan bill to help facilitate the innovative development of pumped storage hydropower, and I’m grateful to Congressman Schweikert for his partnership,” Stanton said in a statement. “Not only do pumped storage projects provide greater flexibility and improve reliability in our energy grid, they cut utility costs for Arizona families and businesses.”

SRP general manager and CEO Jim Pratt said that he’s hoping the bill will continue to succeed.

“SRP applauds House passage of H.R. 1607, a bill that will enable further evaluation of pumped storage sites for long duration energy storage resources,” Pratt said in a statement thanking Arizona’s congressional delegation.

“Based on SRP’s projected customer growth and energy demand, there will be an increasing need to utilize reliable long duration storage, and we look forward to the Senate considering this legislation without delay,” he added.

In March, Arizona Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema introduced a Senate version of the bill, but it has yet to be voted on. Kelly sits on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which had hearings on the legislation in July, according to the congressional website.

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