Huffman, Tonko, King Introduce Bill Driving Floating Solar Development

POWER our Reservoirs Act will support the research and deployment of floating solar to produce renewable energy & protect our vital water resources

April 20, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC—Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Paul D. Tonko (D-NY), and Senator Angus King (I-ME) today introduced in the House and Senate the POWER our Reservoirs Act (Protect our Waters and Expand Renewables on our Reservoirs Act), legislation that would advance clean energy production and drought protection at America’s federal water reservoirs.

“The compounding crisis of extreme drought driven by climate change is wreaking havoc throughout the West and challenging us to find innovative water and energy strategies,” said Rep. Huffman. “Our bill to deploy floating solar panels on water reservoirs helps address both sides of this challenge by reducing evaporative water losses while generating clean, affordable renewable electricity.”

“We must use every tool at our disposal to further our domestic clean energy development and deliver innovative solutions to our pressing climate challenges,” Rep. Tonko said. “Floating solar offers tremendous opportunities to build a more sustainable clean energy future and protect our threatened water systems, including by reducing evaporation and preventing harmful algal blooms. I’ve been proud to spearhead innovative, successful efforts in expanding floating solar both in New York’s Capital Region and beyond. Our legislation will build strongly on those national efforts. I’m proud to be joined by Congressman Huffman and Senator King in pushing forward this legislation that will benefit our communities, our environment, and our economy.”

Floating solar panels on federal water reservoirs have the potential to add more clean, affordable energy to the grid, while simultaneously addressing water shortages by reducing evaporation,” said Senator King. “The POWER our Reservoirs Act takes important steps to study and pilot floating solar systems, which will help identify opportunities to scale this innovative technology. Doing this research now could make a huge, cost-saving difference in the long term. I appreciate Representatives Tonko and Huffman’s partnership on this forward-thinking effort.”

Tonko has championed local projects that are already illustrating the promise of this technology, including securing $3 million for the City of Cohoes to install floating solar panels on the Cohoes reservoir. This effort will serve as a model for communities across the nation striving to implement smart, clean energy systems that drive down consumer costs.

First introduced by Reps. Tonko and Huffman last year, the POWER our Reservoirs Act was partially enacted into law in December 2022—authorizing $10 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the opportunities to advance clean energy and protect against drought by deploying floating solar panels at Army Corps reservoirs. The bicameral legislation introduced today will build upon that initial study and further promote development in floating solar.

The POWER our Reservoirs Act of 2023:

  • Requires the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to study the feasibility of deploying floating solar panels on their reservoirs and make the results of the studies publicly available.
  • Ensures that renewable energy from floating solar panels is considered as part of the USACE’s annual Sustainability Report and Implementation Plan.
  • Funds pilot programs at USACE and BOR to build floating solar panels on appropriate reservoirs.   

A fact sheet of the legislation can be found HERE.