Suddenly, hydroelectricity policy is at the front of both federal and state policymakers\u2019 agendas. At the federal level, it appears that small is good\u2014despite the government\u2019s history of backing big dams. The U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee April 23 discussed a springtime infusion of new power plants based on streams and rivers as a part of the nation\u2019s renewable electricity portfolio. \u201cHydro is back,\u201d declared committee chair Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). He is the author of S. 545, the Hydropower Improvement Act. It promotes pumped storage and new \u201cconduit\u201d hydro that does not include building dams. \tAlthough the federal government is known in history for backing massive dams, this bipartisan effort appears to be addressing small, far less-intrusive ways to create electricity out of water running downhill. In the usually dry California, there are many large hydro facilities. Their owners are investor-owned utilities, munis, and the federal government. They include Big Creek, Feather River, Klamath River, Helms, Merced, Hetch Hetchy, and Shasta. The only river in California that is not dammed is the Smith at the Oregon border. The dams impede anadromous fish runs, and impact other water use. In California, some hydro dams are a target of environmentalists\u2019 decommissioning efforts. That lesson didn\u2019t seem to be lost on federal lawmakers at this hearing\u2014although no mention was made of fisheries at the committee level. \tBut most hydro in the state does not qualify for the renewables portfolio standard. \tThat policy limits hydroelectric dams to those that function at 30 MW or less. Even in California, lawmakers are discussing revising hydro policy, although not changing the limits on what\u2019s considered \u201crenewable\u201d (story above). \tThe Senate committee appeared to have bipartisan consent to pursue more small hydro in the nation in pending legislation.