In order for Central Rivers Power NH, LLC (CRP) to operate the Gorham Hydroelectric and J. Brodie Smith 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.
CRP plans to use FERC’s Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) to relicense both the Gorham Hydroelectric and J. Brodie Smith Hydroelecric Projects. The ILP is intended to make the licensing process predictable, efficient, and timely while complying with federal and state resource protection laws. The ILP is a streamlined process founded on three main principals: 1) early issue identification and resolution of studies that are needed to obtain the necessary information; 2) integration of other stakeholder permitting process needs into the licensing; and 3) established time frames and deadlines for the applicant, FERC, and other stakeholders.
Relicensing via the ILP is an approximately 5-year process that is split into 2 phases: Pre-Filing and Post-Filing. Pre-Filing activity involves filing a Preliminary Application Document (PAD) with agencies and stakeholders, reviewing the PAD with agencies and stakeholders, developing and executing studies to fill in potential information gaps identified in the PAD and in consultation with agencies and stakeholders, and preparing a Final License Application for submission to the FERC. Post-Filing activity involves FERC’s review of the Final License Application to ensure all requirements and regulations are met, FERC preparation and issuance of 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 ILP. Additional information regarding hydroelectric project relicensing is available on the FERC website at www.ferc.gov