House panel to look at bills extending five hydroelectric project licenses

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy & Power is due to hold a Feb. 2 hearing on eight energy infrastructure bills, with five of those bills aimed at telling the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to extend licenses for hydroelectric projects.

Those bills, according to a Jan. 29 committee staff hearing memo, are:

  • H.R. 2080, a bill to reinstate and extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving Clark Canyon Dam. In August 2009, FERC licensed the Clark Canyon Dam Project, to be located at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Clark Canyon Dam on the Beaverhead River in Beaverhead County, Montana. Section 13 of the FPA requires a project licensee to begin construction within two years of license issuance, which FERC may extend once for an additional two-year period. If the licensee still cannot begin construction by the extended deadline, the license expires and is terminated. After granting an initial extension, FERC issued an order terminating the project license in March 2015. H.R. 2080 requires FERC to reinstate the license and extend the start time for construction of the Clark Canyon Dam project for six years.
  • H.R. 2081, a bill to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the Gibson Dam. In January 2012, Gibson Dam Hydroelectric Co. secured a FERC license to construct a hydroelectric facility on Gibson Dam, a non-powered federal Bureau of Reclamation dam in Montana, capable of generating 15 MW. Gibson Hydro was unable to meet the necessary deadlines due to ongoing issues with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requiring the company to obtain a license extension from FERC, which expired on Jan. 12, 2016. H.R. 2081 authorizes FERC to extend the start time for construction of the Gibson Dam project for six years.
  • H.R. 3447, a bill to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the W. Kerr Scott Dam. In July 2012, FERC granted Wilkesboro Hydroelectric Co. LLC an original license for its W. Kerr Scott Hydropower Project, to be located at the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers W. Kerr Scott Dam, located on the Yadkin River, in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Because this project requires extensive coordination with the Corps, a statutory extension of the commencement of construction deadline is needed. H.R. 3447 authorizes FERC to extend the start time for construction of the W. Kerr Scott Dam project for six years.
  • H.R. (bill number is left blank for the moment), a bill to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the Jennings Randolph Dam. In March 2012, FERC granted Advanced Hydro Solutions LLC (AHS) a license to construct a 15-MW hydroelectric facility at the Corps’ existing Jennings Randolph Dam, which is located on the North Branch of the Potomac River in Maryland and West Virginia. The license, as extended, expires in April 2016. Due to unforeseen circumstances and ongoing regulatory delays, a statutory extension of the commencement of construction deadline is needed, said the staff memo. The legislation authorizes FERC to reinstate the license and extend the start time for construction of the Jennings Randolph Dam project for six years.
  • H.R. (bill number is blank), a bill to extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project involving the Cannonsville Dam. In May 2014, FERC granted the City of New York a license to construct a 14-MW hydroelectric facility at the existing Cannonsville Reservoir on the West Branch of the Delaware River near the Town of Deposit, Delaware County, New York. The original license for this project expires in May 2016. Preliminary work at Cannonsville Dam in 2015 led to the discovery of significant unforeseen sub-surface conditions, a prolonged discharge of sediment into the West Branch Delaware River, and needed emergency repairs at the dam. These circumstances necessitate new analyses of the dam and the planned hydroelectric project, as well as the completion of identified repairs, said the memo. These additional reviews and repairs will delay commencement of construction well past the expiration date of the original license, and likely past a two-year extension, if granted. The legislation would authorize FERC to reinstate the license and extend the start time for construction of the Cannonsville Dam project for eight years.
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.