FERC, expecting heavy workload, urges relicensing of hydroelectric facilities

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Nov. 25 posted to its website a generic letter to hydroelectric facility operators noting that records indicate that about 57 hydropower projects with FERC-issued licenses will begin the relicensing process between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2019.

Said the letter sent to these project operators: “According to our records, you own and operate one of these projects. This letter provides advance notice of your project’s license expiration and explains the steps you must take to initiate the relicensing process. Between 5 and 5.5 years before your existing license expires, you will need to notify the Commission whether or not you intend to file an application for a new license.

“Concurrent with the filing of this notice of intent (NOI) to relicense the project, you will need to file a Pre-Application Document (PAD) with the Commission and distribute the PAD to appropriate federal, state, and interstate resource agencies, Indian tribes, local governments, and members of the public likely to be interested in the project’s relicensing. The PAD must include: (1) a process plan and schedule; (2) a description of the project’s location, facilities, and operation; (3) a description of the existing environment at the project and its resource impacts; (4) a preliminary list of issues and proposed studies; and (5) a list of contacts.

“Although the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) is the default process for preparing a relicense application, you have the option of requesting either the Alternative or Traditional Licensing Process (ALP or TLP, respectively). As you consider process options, we ask that you seriously consider the TLP if you expect your project to have non-complex resource issues, relatively little controversy, and a lack of significant disputes over studies.

“From FY 2010 through FY 2014, we’ve received an annual average of about 12 NOI’s to relicense hydroelectric projects. From FY 2016 through FY 2030, we expect that annual average to increase to about 29. To prepare for this substantial increase in the relicensing workload, which will be influenced by process selection, we are asking that you contact us prior to March 1, 2016, to indicate whether you anticipate using the ILP or requesting the TLP or ALP in preparing an application for a new license. Please respond even if you are undecided.”

A list of the 57 facilities is attached to the letter.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.