On Thursday, June 28, 2018, the Senate approved ten individual hydropower bills by unanimous consent. Seven of the ten were previously passed by the House and will now go to the President for his signature. The remaining three bills have not yet been passed by the House, but in all three cases, the House has passed either a companion bill or bills with language similar to the Senate bills.
S.724 authorizes FERC to increase the time a licensee has to commence project construction from two years to eight. It also amends the Federal Power Act with respect to preliminary permits, which do not allow construction of a project site, but maintain priority of application for license (i.e., guaranteed “first-to-file” status) while a permittee studies the site and prepares its license application. The Senate bill authorizes FERC to issue a preliminary permit for up to four years, instead of three, to extend a preliminary permit once for four years, and to issue a new permit after the end of a permit extension if it determines that there are extraordinary circumstances that warrant an additional permit. The House has not yet passed this bill, but it has passed similar language in both H.R. 3043 and H.R. 2274.
H.R. 219 and 220 authorize the modification of project boundaries for two hydropower projects in Alaska – the Terror Lake Project in Kodiak, and the Swan Lake Project in southeast Alaska.
S.215 requires FERC, upon request, to issue a stay of the statutory deadline by which construction must commence on the Mahoney Lake Project in Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska and to reinstate the construction license and make it effective as of the date the stay is lifted. The bill also provides that subject to certain conditions, FERC may extend the statutory deadline by which construction must commence on the project by up to six years.
The remaining bills (S.490, H.R. 2292, H.R. 951, H.R. 446, H.R. 447, and H.R. 2122) authorize FERC to extend the time period during which construction must commence by up to six years for six particular projects located in Montana, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia.
Additional information, searchable by bill number, is available here.
*Disclosure – Troutman Sanders LLP worked with House and Senate staff on developing these bills.