With the warning that the federal relicensing process is slowly, butnsteadily, turning off the tap on America’s hydropower resources,” a NewnYork Power Authority (NYPA) official urged the Federal Energy RegulatorynCommission (FERC) to significantly reform the process.
Two-thirds of all hydropower projects relicensed since 1986 lost generation as a result of relicensing,” said Daniel P. Berical, vice president for Policy and Government Affairs for the Power Authority at a public meeting conducted in Albany by FERC to review hydroelectric licensing policies, procedures and regulations.
He noted that the federal government is predicting the trend willncontinue: “The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual EnergynOutlook 2000 projects that hydropower generation will decline throughn2020, ‘as regulatory actions limit capacity at existing sites.”‘
The New York Power Authority operates eight hydroelectric generating facllities in New York State, including the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston, the St. Lawrence-Franklin P. Roosevelt Power Project in Hassena and the Blenheim-Gilbos Pumped Storage Power Project in the northern Catskills.
In the next 15 years, over half of all federally regulated hydropower capacity must be relicensed. Some 284 projects with nearly 29,000 megawatts of capacity will be undergoing the relicensing process. The Power Authority’s St. Lawrence-FOR Project license expires in 2003. The Niagara Project license expires In 2007.
Berical said reform is needed to preserve hydropower’s benefits to the nation’s “environmental quality, energy security and economic prosperity.”
“Hydropower serves as the nation’s largest, emissions-free, renewable energy resource. It is a predominantly domestic resource, largely free from foreign disruption,” the NYPA official noted.
“Reform of the hydropower relicensing process certainly should neither dilute nor diminish the thorough analysis of environmental impacts. However,” Berical said, “the relicensing process reguires a renewed sense of balance. As our nation seeks to address an array of environmental, economic and energy challenges, we must act to assure that the benefits offered by hydropower in all those areas are not sacrificednfor the sake of any single one of those interests. Meaningful reform of the hydropower relicensing process is essential to achieving that balance.”
January 12, 2001