Hydropower license extension—is my project eligible?

Posted in: Energy, Water

GettyImages-157674517MHIf you have a license for a hydropower project set to expire in the next 6-10 years, you may be concerned about the looming effort needed to renew the license. These concerns could prompt you to consider ways to extend your existing license.

Back in October 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission implemented a new policy which increased the 30-year default license term to a 40-year default license term.  As stated in the Discussion Section under Item 20, the policy only applies to applications for renewals of licenses.  However, the discussion Section also provides two examples where license amendments were granted, resulting in license term extensions for existing licenses.

The first example received the extension based on the project’s extensive investment in new structures and increased generation capacity. The second example involved significant investment in environmental enhancements as part of its request. The policy also lists recreational enhancements as a good basis for a license extension request.

Even though it is not one of the two examples, extensions can be requested to coordinate license expiration dates for several projects in the same river basin. Consistent with the requirements outlined in 18 CFR § 2.23, this can allow the Commission to consider cumulative impacts contemporaneously without having to use reserved authority.

In addition to the stipulated circumstances listed above, other unique circumstances can be reasons to request extending license terms. Therefore, it may be possible to use currently unforeseen reasoning to successfully obtain a license extension. We have found the Commission to be open to license extensions in many cases and would be happy to share our experiences.

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


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 a panelist at the 2019 HydroVision International Conference for the Hot Topics and Trends in U.S. Licensing session where he spoke about license extensions.

Read more posts by Shawn Puzen

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