The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a pilot project to test a two-year hydropower licensing process for non-powered existing dams and closed-loop pumped-storage projects.
FERC approved Aug. 5 a pilot project by Free Flow Power Project 92 LLC for the 4.9-MW Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 11 project (P-14276) at the Kentucky River Authority’s existing Lock and Dam 11 on the Kentucky River in Estill and Madison counties of Kentucky.
In January, FERC invited developers to propose pilot projects to test the two-year licensing process. FERC was directed to examine the two-year process by Congress in the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act (H.R.267).
Federal and state agencies, hydropower developers and non-governmental organizations presented ideas to FERC at an October workshop, discussing potential criteria for identifying projects that might be appropriate for a two-year process. As a result, FERC issued a notice (No. AD13-9) on Jan. 6 setting minimum criteria and process for pilot projects that might be appropriate for licensing within a two-year process.
In addition to authorizing the pilot project, FERC’s approval letter sets a process plan and schedule aimed at Free Flow Power filing a license application by May 5, 2015. FERC’s Office of Energy Projects also asked FFP to conduct studies relating to project hydraulics; water quality; aquatic habitat; fish entrainment and survival; cultural resources; and rare, threatened and endangered species.
FERC established minimum criteria for the two-year process including:
- The project must cause little or no change to existing surface and groundwater flows and uses;
- The project must not adversely affect federally listed threatened and endangered species;
- If the project is proposed to be located at or to use a federal dam, the request to use the two-year process must include a letter from the dam owner saying the plan is feasible;
- If the project would use any public park, recreation area or wildlife refuge, the request to use the two-year process must include a letter from the managing entity giving its approval to use the site; and
- For a closed-loop pumped-storage project, the project must not be continuously connected to a naturally flowing water feature.
FERC also directed FFP to file a response to Lock 12 Hydro Partners LLC, which expressed concern about potential effects of the Lock and Dam No. 11 project on Lock 12 Hydro’s proposed 2.64-MW Ravenna hydro project (No. 13214) at Kentucky River Lock and Dam 12.
FERC’s authorization letter and requirements may be obtained from FERC’s Internet site under http://www.ferc.gov/media/news-releases/2014/2014-3/P-14276.pdf.