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

On October 21, the Department of Energy (DOE)’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) issued An Examination of the Hydropower Licensing and Federal Authorization Process, in which it examined the various statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to hydropower projects, and how those requirements protect water quality, fish and wildlife, among other things, they can also add to the time and cost of licensing.  The report provides quantitative and qualitative analyses, considers the perspectives of developers and regulators, and addresses various studies on hydropower licensing timelines and costs, both in the United States and in other hydropower-producing countries.  The report does not propose specific recommendations, but makes a series of key findings that it suggests can be used by policymakers and regulators to engage in informed discussions with project developers and other hydropower stakeholders.
Continue Reading Department of Energy Issues Report on Hydropower Permitting

On November 5th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the more than $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the bipartisan infrastructure framework (BIF).  The Senate had already approved the bill back in August, and it now heads to the President’s desk for signature.  The BIF represents a core piece of President Biden’s agenda and provides significant funding for infrastructure improvements in energy and water, including over $900M in waterpower incentives for new and existing hydropower, pumped storage, and marine energy.  Additional spending is provided for dam safety and removal.
Continue Reading Infrastructure Bill Provides Opportunities for Hydroelectric Industry

On September 23, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), for the first time, issued two orders reserving the right to require future license measures to ensure that licensees have adequate financial reserves “to carry out the terms of the license and Commission orders pertaining thereto.”  FERC’s orders follow its January 2021 Notice of Inquiry, in which it solicited public comments on whether and how it should impose financial assurance requirements on hydropower licensees to ensure licensees have sufficient financial resources to maintain their projects in safe condition.
Continue Reading FERC Includes Financial Assurance Requirement in Recent Licensing Orders