On March 17, 2018, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) proposing to eliminate the Licensed Hydropower Development Recreation Report, designated as FERC Form No. 80 (“Form 80”), which collects information on the use and development of recreational facilities at licensed hydropower projects.  In addition, FERC proposed in the NOPR to revise related regulations in order “to modernize public notice practices, clarify recreational signage requirements, and provide flexibility to assist licensees’ compliance efforts.” 

Under the Federal Power Act, FERC has an obligation to ensure that licensed hydropower projects develop and improve waterways for beneficial public uses, including recreational use.  FERC developed specific policies and regulations requiring license holders to provide for recreational activities on the subject waterways and to notify the public of those recreational opportunities.  Form 80 was designed to require licensees to report to FERC on the development and use of recreational facilities at each project.   However, in the NOPR, FERC explained that the data collected through Form 80 is redundant, explaining that “Form 80 may be duplicative and of limited use to Commission staff when compared to the more detailed and descriptive recreation information submitted to the Commission in response to project-specific recreation requirements.”  In the absence of Form 80, licensees will still need to provide for recreational uses and to comply with project-specific conditions.  Licensees of projects with significant recreational resources will have project-specific license articles requiring the licensee to, for example, prepare and implement a recreation management plan, submit recreation reports, or conduct recreational use monitoring.  The proposal to eliminate Form 80 also does not terminate recreation plans that ties a future filing or other action to the Form 80 reporting schedule—i.e., April 1, 2021 and every six years thereafter.

FERC also proposed in the NOPR to amend Sections 8.1 and 8.2 of its regulations to reflect modern public dissemination methods.  Currently, Section 8.1 requires licensees to publish notice of recreational-related license conditions in local newspapers.  Section 8.2 presently requires licensees to post, at public access points, signs with a great deal of information (from project name to notice that recreation sites are open to the public), and also requires licensees to make available for inspection the FERC-approved recreation plan at local offices.  In the NOPR, FERC proposes to revise Section 8.1 to require licensees with project websites to publish public notice on those websites in addition to publishing it in local newspapers.  FERC also proposes to streamline Section 8.2 to reduce the amount of information that must be included on recreation signage, and require licensees to post FERC-approved recreation plans on project websites in addition to having this information at their local offices.

Comments on FERC’s proposal are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

A copy of the NOPR is available here.