Editor’s Note: Portions of this paper, “Competing Relicensing Applications: Assessing the Threat to Existing Licenses”, were featured in the January 2017 issue of Hydro Review magazine. The full paper is available for download below.
In recent testimony before the United States Congress, Ann Miles, Director of the Office of Energy Projects at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, noted that over 500 hydroelectric projects will commence a relicensing process between 2016 and 2030. These projects represent approximately 50% of the licensed hydroelectric projects under the jurisdiction of FERC, and 30% of all licensed capacity.
Pursuant to the Federal Power Act, FERC will consider license applications filed by both existing licensees and competitors that seek to wrest the project from the incumbent. Given the increasing value of hydroelectric projects in the marketplace, particularly as market forces and environmental policies drive a transition towards low- and no-carbon emitting resources, existing licensees may increasingly face challenges from parties filing competing license applications. This article examines the statutory and regulatory framework governing competing applications on relicensing, and discusses FERC precedent regarding the treatment of competing license applications in prior relicensing proceedings.