The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently proposed a process to expedite the issuance of original hydropower licenses for certain facilities at existing non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects.
The process would aim to ensure a final licensing decision no later than two years after FERC receives a completed application.
Under the proposal, facilities at non-powered dams to qualify for the expedited process, it can not already be licensed or be exempted from the licensing requirements in the Federal Power Act. It must also be associated with a non-powered dam and be constructed, operated and maintained for the generation of electric power. The facility must generate electricity by using withdrawals, diversions, releases or flows from the associated qualifying non-powered dam and cannot make any material changes to the storage, release or flow operations of the associated qualifying non-powered dam.
For a closed-loop pumped storage facility to qualify for the process, it must cause little or no change in existing surface and groundwater flows and uses and must not adversely affect threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
FERC noted that the process is part of its efforts to implement the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.
Before the release of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FERC in November invited federal and state agencies and Native American tribes to participate in an interagency task force on the regulatory processes associated with the proposal. Preliminary discussions occurred in December.