The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in unprecedented levels of uncertainty in almost every aspect of our daily lives. The dam safety community is no exception. I recently reached out to a colleague in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Division of Dam Safety and Inspections (D2SI). Like many of us, members of the FERC regional office have been coping with the challenges of working remotely. When I asked what we as dam owners and dam safety professionals can do to improve communications with the FERC in the coming weeks and months, I was given the following guidance:
- The FERC recognizes that dam owners and dam safety professionals are dealing with their own responses to COVID-19. Where appropriate and justifiable, the FERC will try to be flexible regarding deadlines for certain dam safety submittals.
- Any dam owner wishing to request an extension for a submittal due to delays or hardships associated with their response to COVID-19 should eFile a brief letter describing the extension request.
- As with all electronic submittals, dam owners should ensure that they select the appropriate regional office when using the FERC’s eFiling system.
- Until further notice, all submittals should be submitted electronically using the FERC’s eFiling system. Paper copies of submittals should not be mailed to the FERC’s Chicago Regional Office.
- Dam owners should consult with the FERC before starting any construction projects that, if not completed in a timely manner, could constitute a dam safety risk.
Considering the current landscape, I think it is even more important to maintain open and effective communication between regulators, owners, and consultants. I hope you all find this guidance to be helpful.