FERC seeks hydro pilot projects to study two-year licensing process

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is seeking pilot projects to investigate the feasibility of a two-year licensing process for hydropower development at non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects.

Directed by Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, FERC will test the two-year licensing process; develop criteria to identify appropriate projects suitable for the process; as well as develop and implement pilot projects to test the process.

The commission held an initial workshop on October 22, 2013 to seek comments and recommendations from various sections including federal and state agencies, hydropower developers and non-governmental organizations.

FERC is now seeking applications between February 5 and May 5, 2014, setting minimum criteria and process for the projects that may be appropriate for licensing within the two-year process.

As per the criteria, the proposal/project is required to cause little to no change to existing surface and groundwater flows and uses; and do not adversely affect federally listed threatened and endangered species.

The criteria also requires the applicant to enclose a letter from the dam owner saying the plan is feasible should the project is proposed to be located at or use a federal dam.

The developer is also required to enclose a letter from the managing entity giving its approval to use the site if the project would use any public park, recreation area, or wildlife refuge.

If the project is a closed-loop pumped storage project, it should not be continuously connected to a naturally flowing water feature, according to FERC’s criteria.