Government shutdown postpones FERC workshop on Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has postponed a hearing on implementation of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 as a result of a shutdown of the federal government due to Congress’ lack of agreement on spending measures.

The workshop is postponed to Oct. 22 from Oct. 2.

Although FERC issued a six-page contingency plan for operations during a government shutdown, it announced Sept. 30 that the commission would continue normal business operations and hours until such time as it issues notice to the contrary.

President Obama signed the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act (H.R.267) and the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act (H.R.678) on Aug. 9. The National Hydropower Association said the bills mark the first significant energy legislation to be enacted since the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

H.R.267 increases the maximum small hydro licensing exemption to 10 MW from 5 MW; removes from FERC jurisdiction those projects under 5 MW that are on water conduits; increases the maximum capacity for conduit exemptions to 40 MW regardless of whether they are owned by municipalities; provides FERC the ability to extend preliminary permits two years beyond their current three-year terms; and requires FERC to examine a two-year licensing process for adding hydropower to non-powered dams and for closed-loop pumped-storage projects. H.R.678 authorizes small hydroelectric development at existing Reclamation-owned canals, pipelines, aqueducts, and other manmade waterways.

FERC now says it will convene the workshop from noon to 4 p.m., Eastern time, Oct. 22 at FERC headquarters in Washington to begin investigating the feasibility of a two-year process for issuing licenses for hydropower development at existing non-powered dams and for closed-loop pumped-storage projects. It said participants should be prepared to present ideas on the details of a two-year licensing process, discuss potential criteria for identifying projects that might be appropriate for a two-year process, and recommend potential pilot projects to test such a process.

Those interested in attending should register at https://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/registration/efficiency-act-10-02-13-form.asp by Oct. 16. Those who already registered do not have to do so again. A free Internet webcast of the session is to be available through FERC’s website, www.ferc.gov. Written comments may be filed by Nov. 1. For information, see FERC’s Internet site for the original workshop notice under http://www.ferc.gov/CalendarFiles/20130903142041-AD13-9-000.pdf.

FERC also created a web page under Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013, http://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/indus-act/efficiency-act.asp, providing guidance to developers on filing a notice of intent to build a qualifying conduit facility, an application for small hydropower exemption, and an application to amend a preliminary permit term.

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