Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed House amended (03/07/2012)

Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2012 - Amends the Reclamation Project Act of 1939 to authorize the Secretary of the Interior (acting through the Bureau of Reclamation) to contract for the development of small conduit hydropower at Bureau facilities.

Defines: (1) "small" as 1.5 megawatts or less; and (2) "conduit" as a tunnel, canal, pipeline, aqueduct, flume, ditch, or similar manmade water conveyance.

Requires that power privilege leases be offered first to an irrigation district or water users association operating or receiving water from the applicable transferred or reserved work.

Defines: (1) reserved work as any conduit included in project works whose care, operation, and maintenance has been reserved by the Secretary (through the Bureau); and (2) transferred work as any conduit included in project works whose care, operation, and maintenance has been transferred to a legally organized water users association or irrigation district.

Exempts the small conduit hydropower development authorized by this Act from the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), except with respect to siting of associated transmission on federal lands.

Makes the Bureau's Power Resources Office the lead office for such small conduit hydropower policy and procedure-setting activities. (Thus excludes such activities from the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC].)

Declares that nothing in this Act shall: (1) obligate specified power administrations to purchase or market the power produced by such facilities, (2) alter or impede the delivery and management of water for original project purposes, or (3) alter or affect any existing agreements for conduit hydropower development projects or disposition of revenues. Deems water used for conduit hydropower generation to be incidental to use of water for the original project purposes.

Allows the lease of power privilege only when the exercise of the lease will not be incompatible with, or create unmitigated financial or physical impacts to, the applicable project or division.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) notify and consult with the appropriate irrigation district or water users association operating a transferred conduit before offering such a lease; and (2) prescribe terms and conditions to protect the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and other interests of the United States and the project or division involved.