1615 M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202) 467-6370
Fax: (202) 467-6379
Changes to Hydropower Licensing Will Mean Increased Efficiency
Despite the partisan grid lock gripping the nation’s capital of late, Congress managed to act with a united voice to direct improvements to the hydropower licensing process administered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission”). After Congress unanimously passed the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (“the Act”), President Obama signed the bill into law on August 9, 2013. The new law streamlines the regulatory process of obtaining a license for certain types of hydropower projects and should promote the development of new hydropower resources across the country.
The Act affects hydropower licensing in five ways:
- It exempts a greater number of “small hydroelectric power projects” at existing dams from licensing by raising the threshold for such projects from 5,000 kW to 10,000 kW.
- It authorizes an expedited exemption process for any previously unlicensed (or unexempted) hydropower projects on non-federally owned conduits with a proposed installed capacity of 5 MW or smaller. The Commission has already posted to its website instructions for filing the required notice: http://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/indus-act/efficiency-act/qua-conduit.asp.
- It provides the Commission with authority to extend the period of a preliminary permit for an additional two years beyond the initial three-year term if “the permittee has carried out activities under such permit in good faith and with reasonable diligence.” This represents a significant regulatory improvement protecting permittees diligently preparing license applications for new generating capacity.
- It recognizes the untapped potential of pumped storage facilities and of hydropower projects at conduit facilities by directing the Secretary of Energy to study the technical potential of these types of projects.
- In an effort to reduce the delays and costs involved in the licensing process, it directs the Commission to investigate the feasibility of instituting a two-year process for licensing hydropower projects at nonpowered dams and closed loop pumped storage projects. The Act requires the Commission to host a workshop on the feasibility of such an expedited process and, if practicable, to implement pilot projects to test the feasibility of the expedited process. The Commission hosted the workshop on October 22, 2013.
Hydropower is the single largest source of renewable energy in the country. According to the National Hydropower Association, only three percent of the nation’s 80,000 dams generating electricity. Further, the National Hydropower Association estimates that 12.6 gigawatts of new, renewable power can be generated at existing dam sites. The Act’s call to streamline the often costly and time-consuming licensing process should incent the development of new hydropower resources throughout the country.
Duncan, Weinberg, Genzer & Pembroke’s attorneys are experienced and actively involved in all aspects of hydropower regulation. Please visit the hydropower section our of website for more information on our hydropower practice and let us know if we can be of assistance to you in investigating the potential for development of hydropower resources— whether hydroelectric facilities at new or existing dams, conduit projects, or pumped storage projects—within your area. Please contact Don Clarke or Josh Adrian or either by phone at 202-467-6370.
In Memoriam: Richmond F. Allan, 1930-2013
Richmond F. Allan, former Partner and Of Counsel to the Firm passed away on June 14, 2013. Prior to joining the Firm, Rich served as Associate Solicitor of the Department of the Interior, in charge of the Division of Indian Affairs and later Deputy Solicitor of the Department of Interior. At Interior, Rich worked with founding partner Wallace L. Duncan and for named partner, Edward Weinberg. He continued to practice extensively in the fields of natural resources, public land and Indian law after joining the Firm in 1979, representing such clients as Sealaska Corporation, the Confederate Tribes of the Colville Reservation and Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes. He was also active on behalf of the Natives of Southeast Alaska in securing adoption of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which resolved the aboriginal claim of the Alaska Natives. Rich brought a quick wit, straight talk and a no-nonsense attitude to the practice of law. His lack of patience for mediocrity belied a warm and supportive law partner who will be greatly missed by his colleagues.
DWGP Shareholder's Volunteer Efforts Helps To Create A Great American Main Street Within the District of Columbia
Each year, the National Trust Main Street Center recognizes exceptional Main Street communities whose successes serve as a model for comprehensive commercial district revitalization. On April 14th at the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference Opening Ceremony in New Orleans, LA, H Street Main Street (HSMS), a community and local business based organization within the District of Columbia, received the Great American Main Street Award for its efforts in revitalizing the H Street Corridor in Northeast, Washington, DC. Receiving the award on behalf of HSMS was Derek Dyson, Chairman of HSMS, and Anwar Saleem, Executive Director. The HSMS is a nonprofit, 501(c)3, formed in 2006. The H Street Corridor has become a vibrant and successful corridor that continues to support local businesses, while marketing the corridor for further development.
Anwar Saleem, Executive Director of HSMS (L) and Derek Dyson, Chairman of HSMS
DWGP Client Granted Fifty Year Hydro License
DWGP client the Public Utility District No.1 of Okanogan County (District) received a new 50-year license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the District’s Enloe Hydroelectric Project, FERC Project No. 12569, on July 9, 2013. David Womack, President of the Board of Commissioners for Okanogan County, has expressed his pleasure that FERC issued a 50-year license instead of the typical 40-year license. The license is the culmination of 9 years of studies, negotiations, and plan development with tribes; community groups; and local, state, and federal agencies.
The 9 megawatt (MW) Enloe Hydroelectric Project is located on the Similkameen River near the town of Oroville in Okanogan County, Washington. The license contains provisions and commitments over the next 5 decades that allow the District to generate more local renewable hydropower, protect fish and wildlife, and enhance recreation opportunities. Some of the key project features include a new park, picnic area, and boat ramp located near the dam site; improved recreation trails and parking facilities; and multiple fish and wildlife enhancement projects.
New NEPA Guidelines to Consider Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change
As part of the White House’s ongoing efforts to address climate change, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is considering issuing revised guidance under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that would direct federal agencies to consider, for the first time, the extent to which major federal actions could affect climate change. NEPA recognizes that major federal activities have the potential to affect the environment in some way, and NEPA mandates that federal agencies first consider the effects of such activities on the quality of the human environment before a project may proceed. If finalized, the revised guidance would reflect a significant change in NEPA environmental review that is often triggered as part of the permitting process for energy projects.
 NEPA established the CEQ within the Executive Office of the President and it is responsible for ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under the Act. The CEQ has promulgated regulations that implement NEPA and that serve as a model for most other federal agencies’ own NEPA regulations.