FERC proposes changes to hydro project security program

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Dam Safety and Inspections Division has issued a draft revision of its Security Program for Hydropower Projects. FERC said it will accept comments submitted by May 22.

The document provides guidance to FERC licensees and to commission staff in executing the security program. FERC said the proposed changes in the draft reflect comments and recommendations FERC received from project licensees and from other agencies. FERC created the original program in November 2001, in response to terrorist attacks on the United States.

The program assigns all dams under FERC’s jurisdiction to one of three security groups, with specific requirements designated for each group. It defines requirements for vulnerability assessments, security assessments, security plans, and security measures for each of the three groups.

The security groups are based on potential dam hazard classification, project size, potential consequences, and installed generating capacity. Security Group 1 dams are inspected with a high level of scrutiny by FERC. Security Group 2 dams are inspected by FERC engineers at a high level of awareness, consistent with the potential threat level. Security Group 3 dams are inspected by FERC engineers as the dams come up for scheduled dam safety inspections, from one to three years.

The draft document is on FERC’s Internet site, www.ferc.gov. A PDF version of the 66-page document can be obtained from the site at www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/safety/guidelines/security/securityprogram-r2.pdf.

FERC postpones changes to security groups

FERC also is updating its security group classifications for dams, which originally were developed immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The original groupings primarily were based on consequences. Since 2001, the dam sector security programs have more fully developed into a risk-based evaluation, which considers threat, vulnerability, and consequences, FERC said.

FERC said it has chosen not to issue out a tentative list of security group changes in 2009. Instead, it said it would wait until it can use an improved Dam Assessment Matrix for Security and Vulnerability Risk methodology to more accurately define the potential risk at hydroelectric projects.

FERC manages the largest dam safety program in the U.S., responsible for more than 3,000 dams. (HNN 12/22/06) It also cooperates with federal and state agencies to ensure dam safety and homeland security. FERC’s Dam Safety and Inspections Division monitors security programs and measures implemented by dam owners.

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