Hydropower Project Licenses
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) grants licenses for hydropower projects for a period anywhere from 30 to 50 years. Licenses define how projects may operate for power generation and include provisions that benefit the public and the environment. For example, a license might require operations to control flooding, enhance recreational opportunities, and protect or enhance the environment affected by project operations.
Stakeholders and Public Involvement
Active public involvement in the relicensing process is important to ensure future licenses balance the need for power production as well as the needs of recreation, safety, the environment and our communities. Equally important to address project-related impacts are the discussions, or consultation, with state and federal agencies managing natural and cultural resources, Native American tribes, environmental groups and the public; known collectively as stakeholders.
Throughout the course of the relicensing process, stakeholders and the public are provided various opportunities to participate through public meetings and solicitations for comments on official documents.
The entire relicensing process can take anywhere from five to 10 years, depending on the complexity of issues and studies needed to identify environmental and economic impacts. After working with stakeholders and the public, Idaho Power summarizes results of identified impacts and mitigation strategies to address them in a license application.
After receiving the application, FERC evaluates the application and develops license orders. When FERC develops license orders, it is required to consider both the power and non-power benefits of the project equally. Generation of electricity and flood control are two power benefits. Non-power benefits include benefits to fish, wildlife, botanical, aesthetics, water quality, land use, recreation, and cultural resources.
A successful application proposes ways to balance power and non-power benefits. The application should keep the project cost-effective while addressing project-related impacts on the environment and providing recreation opportunities.