On December 16, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission or FERC) issued a final rule amending its regulations governing the dam safety of FERC-licensed hydroelectric projects under the Federal Power Act (FPA). FERC’s final rule follows its July 16, 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) (see July 21, 2020 edition of the WER), which FERC issued following the 2017 spillway incident at the Oroville Dam and the May 2020 dam failures at the Edenville Dam and Sanford Dam in central Michigan.
The Commission explained that its final rule accomplished four objectives that are essential to improving its dam safety program under part 12 of its regulations. First, it implements the two-tiered inspection program set forth in the NOPR, which will include a comprehensive assessment and a periodic inspection, each of which will be performed at a 10-year interval. The comprehensive assessment will be more in-depth than the current part 12 inspections, will formally incorporate the existing Potential Failure Mode Analysis process, and will also require a semi-quantitative risk analysis. The periodic inspection will be narrower in scope and primarily focused on performance of project works between comprehensive assessments. This two-tier structure retains FERC’s current five-year interval between part 12 inspections at each Commission-licensed project and is consistent with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) recommendation that “formal” inspections be conducted every five years. FERC’s rule explained that this two-tier inspection scheme is similar to those used by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Continue Reading FERC Finalizes Revisions to Dam Safety Regulations