On January 25, 2022, FERC announced that FERC staff will hold a technical conference on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, regarding whether the Commission should require additional financial assurance mechanisms in the licenses and other authorizations that FERC issues for hydroelectric projects, to ensure that licensees have the capability to carry out license requirements and, particularly, to maintain their projects in safe condition.
On January 19, 2022, FERC issued a notice of inquiry (“NOI”), seeking public comment on whether, and if so, how, the Commission should require financial assurance measures in licenses and other authorizations for hydroelectric projects to ensure that licensees have the capability to carry out license requirements and, particularly, to maintain their projects in safe condition. First, the NOI sought comment on whether the Commission should require financial assurance from licensees. Second, the NOI sought comment on whether and how often the Commission should require licenses to reaffirm or recertify that they have adequate financial assurance instruments in place. Lastly, the NOI included three potential options that the Commission identified for establishing financial assurance mechanisms in hydroelectric licenses: (1) requiring licensees to obtain bonds to cover the costs of safety measures and project operation and maintenance; (2) establishing an industry-wide trust or remediation fund or requiring licensees to maintain an individual trust, escrow, or remediation fund; or (3) requiring licensees to obtain insurance policies for unforeseen safety hazards or dam failures. The Commission is seeking comment on each option generally, to each posed question, or any other alternatives.
Shortly after issuing the NOI, FERC announced a technical conference on the proposals and questions raised in the notice. The technical conference will be held on April 26, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. The Commission will issue supplemental notices prior to the conference with further details regarding the agenda and how to participate as a panelist. The conference will be held virtually and information on this conference will also be posted on the Calendar of Events on the Commission’s website, www.ferc.gov, prior to the event.