Recent action on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hydropower license terms

Posted in: Energy, Water


FERC requested formal comments by March 24th

One item of interest to myself and many licensees lately is the progress on any changes to FERC policy for establishing the length of original and new license terms for hydroelectric projects.

The latest information on license term changes has been produced by both the House and Senate. H.R. 3043 (Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017) was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on June 28th and S. 1460 (Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017) was introduced and cleared for Senate floor consideration on June 29th.

In addition to many additional items that are beneficial to hydropower, both bills contain primarily the same provision for FERC regarding establishing relicense terms.

In summary, both bills direct the FERC to consider project-related investments by the licensee over the term of the new license in addition to the term of the exiting license. Currently, only project-related investments planned over the term of the new license can be considered. This increases the likelihood of FERC issuing a new license for 40 or 50 years instead of the 30-year minimum.

This may not be exactly what was requested by some stakeholders (a mandatory 50-year license). It is a definite step forward, indicating a greater understanding that hydroelectric projects periodically require maintenance that can be very costly to the licensee. Therefore, the risks associated with the maintenance investment can be reduced by longer licensure periods because many maintenance projects cannot wait for a new license to be issued.

The National Hydropower Association is working with the 115th Congress to make the sure these bills and hydropower are a priority.

If you would like to discuss the progress of NHA regarding interfacing with Congress, please contact Jeff Leahey, NHA Deputy Executive Director. If you want to discuss any other action on hydropower licensing, please contact me or David Zayas, NHA Director of Regulatory Affairs and Technical Services.


Shawn Puzen

About the Author

Shawn Puzen is the FERC Compliance and Licensing Manager for Mead & Hunt. He has a unique blend of experience as a utility industry environmental consultant well-respected by the regulatory agencies with a solid record of performance in fulfilling federal, state and local regulatory and resource requirements. He is the former president of the Midwest Hydro Users Group and was on the Steering Committee for the 2016 and 2017 HydroVision International Conference.

Read more posts by Shawn Puzen

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