The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today solicited pilot projects to test a two-year licensing process for hydropower development at non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects. Applicants must file their requests between February 5 and May 5, 2014.
The Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 directed the Commission to investigate the feasibility of a two-year licensing process, develop criteria for identifying projects that may be appropriate for the process, and develop and implement pilot projects to test the process. FERC held an October 22, 2013 workshop to get input from federal and state agencies, hydropower developers and non-governmental organizations. Written comments also were filed with the Commission.
Based on the Commission’s licensing experience, the workshop and the comments, today’s notice sets minimum criteria and process for the projects that may be appropriate for licensing within a two-year process. These include:
The project must cause little to no change to existing surface and groundwater flows and uses;
The project must not adversely affect federally listed threatened and endangered species;
If the project is proposed to be located at or use a federal dam, the request to use the two-year process must include a letter from the dam owner saying the plan is feasible;
If the project would use any public park, recreation area, or wildlife refuge, the request to use the two-year process must include a letter from the managing entity giving its approval to use the site; and
For a closed-loop pumped storage project, the project must not be continuously connected to a naturally flowing water feature.
The notice also establishes the information that must be included in an applicant’s request to test a two-year process.