The latest on the Senate and House Energy Bills

Posted in: Energy, Water

W. Kerr Scott Dam

Back in early August, I reported on the Senate’s Energy Policy and Modernization Act of 2015 (Senate Energy Bill). The bipartisan energy bill included several provisions to increase the efficiency of hydropower regulations. One such provision extended the duration of preliminary permits.

The Senate Energy Bill came out of committee, retained the preliminary permit provisions and was sent to the Senate as a whole on September 9, 2015 as S.2012. It was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders (Calendar No. 218). It is hoped the Senate will bring its energy bill to the floor sometime in 2016.

On September 16, 2015, Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced the North American Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015 (House Energy Bill) to the House. It was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and was reported out of Committee on September 30, 2015. It was passed by the House on December 3, 2015 and went to the Senate for consideration as H.R.8.

Like S.2012, H.R.8 also contains several provisions designed to increase the efficiency of hydropower regulations. However, it does not contain provisions for general extensions of preliminary permits. It only contains provision for extending the construction due date for the W. Kerr Scott Dam (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Project No. 12642).

H.R.8 also contains provisions to create process improvements in hydropower licensing by:

  • Designating FERC as a lead agency for coordinating federal authorizations in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process
  • Improving the licensing study process
  • Implementing separate rules for closed-loop pump storage projects
  • Improving the license amendment process
  • Promoting hydropower development at existing non-powered dams

On November 30, 2015, the Executive Office of the President issued a Statement of Administration Policy threatening to veto H.R. 8 for several reasons including the hydropower provisions.

I look forward to discussing this and any other FERC hydropower licensing related concerns you may have.

Shawn Puzen

About the Author

Shawn Puzen is the FERC Compliance and Licensing Manager for Mead & Hunt. With over 25 years in the industry, Shawn has a unique blend of utility industry environmental consultant and independent consultant experience, and is well-respected by regulatory agencies for his ability to fulfill federal, state and local regulatory and resource requirements. He is the former president of the Midwest Hydro Users Group and has been active as a steering committee member, facilitator and panel member at HydroVision International for the past 10 years.

Read more posts by Shawn Puzen

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