A Voith Hydro project is among the priorities in President Barack Obama's recently announced Climate Action Plan.

The 135-year-old West Manchester Township company has a $50 million contract to supply hydropower equipment to the Red Rock Hydroelectric Plant in Iowa.

The hydropower project along the Des Moines River was featured in the president's plan last week as the designee to participate in the Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard for high-priority projects.

As part of the plan, Obama proposed faster permitting for clean energy projects, including the development of hydroelectric power at existing dams.

The president has set a goal to double renewable electricity generation by 2020.

"The president's announcement is welcome news for clean energy advocates, as well as the entire hydropower industry," Voith Hydro President and CEO Kevin Frank said in a statement.

Any uptick in the speed of the hydropower permitting process is welcome news to the company, which provides 550 jobs in York County.

Years-long process: Earlier this year, Voith Hydro supported two pieces of legislation before the U.S. Congress -- the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act and the Water Resources Development Act.

The House unanimously passed the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act, and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed similar legislation in the Hydropower Improvement Act.


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If both pieces of legislation become law, they will streamline the permitting process for hydropower projects.

At present, getting a hydropower license can take anywhere from five to 15 years.

"That's one of the biggest barriers in our industry," Frank said during a previous interview.

A hydropower license is required to build a new dam or work on an existing dam. For the Red Rock project, Voith is supplying turbines, generators, automations and plant systems.

With that work being designated for the Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard, it will help expedite other hydropower projects across the U.S., Frank said.

"Coupled with recent congressional action to streamline the regulatory process for hydropower projects, we are beginning to see tangible progress towards expanding reliable, clean and low-cost American hydropower," he said.

Based on the voting record of Congress, hydropower is a part of energy policy that receives bipartisan support.

"Not only will expanded hydropower production help meet President Obama's climate goals, it has the added benefit of creating jobs in all parts of the United States," Frank said.

-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.