In order for KPU to operate the Beaver Falls Hydroelectric Project, they must obtain and retain an operating license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Federal Power Act (FPA) gives FERC the exclusive authority to issue licenses to construct, operate, and maintain certain non-federal hydropower projects. A license is issued for a specific period of time (typically 40 years), and the Licensee must reapply for a new license prior to the expiration of an existing license. This application process is called relicensing. The relicensing process addresses not only a project’s electrical generation, but also the natural resources present at a project that may be affected, both positively and negatively, by the project’s continued operation. FERC is required by federal law to consider both power and non-power issues when relicensing hydroelectric facilities.
KPU plans to use FERC’s Traditional Licensing Process (TLP) to relicense the Beaver Falls Project. The TLP is an ideal process for low impact projects with limited resource issues. The TLP offers flexible timelines and allows the applicant to more collaboratively work with resource agencies and stakeholders throughout the relicensing process. KPU’s use of the TLP is contingent upon receiving final approval from FERC. KPU has gained support for use of the TLP from multiple resource agencies and anticipates that FERC will also support its use of the TLP.
Relicensing via the TLP is an approximately 5-year process that is split into 3 stages. In the First Stage the applicant issues its notice of intent to relicense, its Preliminary Application Document (PAD), and request to utilize the TLP with FERC, agencies, Indian tribes, and stakeholders (collectively referred to as stakeholders). Stakeholders review the PAD and the applicant hosts a joint agency/public meeting and site visit at the Project. Stakeholders then provide written comments and study requests for the relicensing effort. In Stage Two, the applicant completes reasonable and necessary studies. At the close of studies, the applicant then provides stakeholders with a drafted license application inclusive of study results. Stakeholders may provide comments on the draft license application. The Third Stage involves the applicant’s review of final comments and filing of the Final License Application with FERC and stakeholders. Upon receipt of the Application, FERC reviews the Final License Application to ensure all requirements and regulations are met. Typically, within two years of Final License Application submittal, FERC preparers and issues a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental analysis document, and FERC Authorization (License Order for continued operation).
Figure 1 below depicts a high-level overview of the FERC’s TLP. Additional information regarding hydroelectric project relicensing is available on the FERC website at www.ferc.gov.