On September 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued an opinion in Save the Colorado, et al. v. Spellmon. The case arose from various conservation group challenges to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) decision to grant the city and county of Denver, acting through its Board of Water Commissioners (Denver Water or municipality), a discharge permit to expand the reservoir of its Gross Reservoir Hydroelectric Project, which is licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission). The central issue revolved around whether the U.S. courts of appeals have exclusive jurisdiction over challenges to non-FERC decisions arising under statutes related to the development of hydropower projects under the Federal Power Act (FPA). The Tenth Circuit ultimately held that petitions against orders by non-FERC agencies do not warrant exclusive jurisdiction in the U.S. courts of appeals.

Continue Reading Tenth Circuit Resolves Jurisdictional Dispute, Finds FPA Jurisdictional Limit Does Not Apply to Non-FERC Agency Orders

On September 9, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it would distribute $13.5 million to incentivize hydroelectric generation in the United States. The financial support is part of the Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program, which provides funding for electricity generated and sold from dams and other water infrastructure projects that will add to or expand hydropower generation.

Continue Reading DOE Announces $13.5M Distribution to Hydroelectric Facilities Through the Hydroelectric Production Incentive Program

On September 21, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, released the text of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022 (Act). This comprehensive Act was set to be included in the upcoming Continuing Resolution; however, on September 27, Manchin pulled the Act from the Continuing Resolution given bipartisan opposition. The Act sought to improve energy production in the United States by accelerating agency review of certain energy projects and modernizing permitting laws.

Continue Reading Senator Manchin’s Permitting Reform Bill Pulled From the Continuing Resolution

As we previously reported, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which President Biden signed into law on November 15, 2021, included over $900 million in waterpower incentives for new and existing hydropower, pumped storage, and marine energy. Specifically, the BIL provided additional funding for the existing incentive programs established by Sections 242 and 243 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) and created a new incentive program to maintain and enhance hydroelectricity through improvements to grid resiliency, dam safety, and the environment under Section 247 of EPAct 2005.

Continue Reading Department of Energy Issues Request for Information on Hydropower Funding Provisions

On April 15, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an Equity Action Plan (EAP) that introduces a two-year overhaul to review its policies to better promote equity and remove barriers to environmental justice communities.  In particular, for hydropower projects, the EAP will focus on:  (1) building and staffing its new Office of Public Participation, (2) strengthening Tribal government consultation and engagement policies and processes, (3) reviewing key regulations within the hydropower project licensing process, and (4) implementing equity readiness for staff to understand the EAP mission.
Continue Reading FERC Equity Action Plan and Hydropower Licensing

On April 21, 2022, FERC issued an order assessing a civil penalty of $600,000 to Ampersand Cranberry Lake Hydro, LLC (“Ampersand”), licensee for the 595 kilowatt (kW) Cranberry Lake Hydroelectric Project in St. Lawrence County, New York, for violation of Article 5 of the project’s license, which requires a licensee to retain possession of all project property covered by the license.
Continue Reading FERC Assesses $600,000 Civil Penalty to Hydro Licensee

On February 22, 2022, FERC issued a Supplemental Notice regarding its planned Technical Conference on its Notice of Inquiry on Financial Assurance Measures for licenses, scheduled to take place on Tuesday, April 26 at 11:30am.

The Supplemental Notice provides a schedule for the program and proposed panel topics.  The first panel, Protecting Hydroelectric Facilities and

On March 24, 2022, FERC issued an Order Addressing Arguments Raised on Rehearing and Denying Motion for Temporary Stay regarding The Nevada Hydro Company, Inc.’s (Nevada Hydro) October 2017 license application for its proposed Lake Elsinore Advanced Pumped Storage (LEAPS) Project.
Continue Reading FERC Addresses Arguments on Rehearing of Order Dismissing License Application for Pumped Storage Project

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.
Continue Reading FERC to Host Technical Conference on Financial Assurance Measures for Hydroelectric Projects