Licensing in the 1990's: Can FERC Be a One-Stop Shop?

by Gary D. Bachman, Van Ness, Feldman, Sutcliffe & Curtis, United States,
Michael A. Swiger, Van Ness, Feldman, Sutcliffe & Curtis, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Waterpower '89


The Federal Water Power Act of 1920 was enacted in order to create a comprehensive licensing scheme for hydroelectric power development. Central to that scheme was the consolidation of licensing authority in one federal administrative body, the Federal Power Commission, now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ('FERC' or 'Commission'). This paper examines the increasing trend in recent years toward a splintering of FERC's hydroelectric licensing jurisdiction among other federal agencies, and addresses the impacts of that division of authority on hydroelectric development and FERC's ability to fulfill its comprehensive planning role. The paper concludes that the policy reasons underlying Congress' creation of the Commission still have vitality today and that it is important for the future development of hydropower that FERC aggressively reassert its exclusive federal licensing authority.

Subject Headings: Hydro power | Licensure and certification | Federal government | Power plants | Jurisdiction | Laws and regulations | Legislation | Permits

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