U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Sep 23, 2023
This subpart provides procedures for exemption on a case-specific basis from all or part of Part I of the Federal Power Act (Act), including licensing, for small hydroelectric power projects as defined in § 4.30(b)(31).
(a) To voluntarily surrender its exemption, a holder of an exemption for a small hydroelectric power project must file a petition with the Commission.
(b)(1) If construction has begun, prior to filing a petition with the Commission, the exemption holder must consult with the fish and wildlife agencies in accordance with § 4.38, substituting for the information required under § 4.38(b)(1) information appropriate to the disposition and restoration of the project works and lands. The petition must set forth the exemption holder's plans with respect to disposition and restoration of the project works and lands.
(2) If construction has begun, public notice of the petition will be given, and, at least 30 days thereafter, the Commission will act upon the petition. New applications involving the site may be filed on the next business day.
(c) If no construction had begun, unless the Commission issues an order to the contrary, the surrender will take effect at the close of the thirtieth day after the Commission issues a public notice of receipt of the petition. New applications involving the site may be filed on the next business day.
(d) Exemptions may be surrendered only upon fulfillment by the exemption holder of such obligations under the exemption as the Commission may prescribe and, if construction has begun, upon such conditions with respect to the disposition of such project works and restoration of project lands as may be determined by the Commission and the Federal and state fish and wildlife agencies.
(e) Where occupancy of federal lands or reservations has been permitted by a Federal agency having supervision over such lands, the exemption holder must concurrently notify that agency of the petition to surrender and of the steps that will be taken to restore the affected U.S. lands or reservations.
(a) Exemptible projects. Subject to the provisions in paragraph (b) of this section, § 4.31(c), and §§ 4.105 and 4.106, the Commission may exempt on a case-specific basis any small hydroelectric power project from all or part of Part I of the Act, including licensing requirements. Any applications for exemption for a project shall conform to the requirements of §§ 4.107 or 4.108, as applicable.
(b) Limitation for licensed water power project. The Commission will not accept for filing an application for exemption from licensing for any project that is only part of a licensed water power project.
(c) Waiver. In applying for case-specific exemption from licensing, a qualified exemption applicant may petition under § 385.207 of this chapter for waiver of any specific provision of §§ 4.102 through 4.107. The Commission will grant a waiver only if consistent with section 408 of the Energy Security Act of 1980.
(a) An exemption holder must construct and operate its project as described in the exemption application approved by the Commission or its delegate.
(b) If an exemption holder desires to change the design, location, method of construction or operation of its project, it must first notify the appropriate Federal and state fish and wildlife agencies and inform them in writing of the changes it intends to implement. If these agencies determine that the changes would not cause the project to violate the terms and conditions imposed by the agencies, and if the changes would not materially alter the design, location, method of construction or operation of the project, the exemption holder may implement the changes. If any of these agencies determines that the changes would cause the project to violate the terms and conditions imposed by that agency, or if the changes would materially alter the design, location, method of construction or the operation of the project works, the exemption holder may not implement the changes without first acquiring authorization from the Commission to amend its exemption or acquiring a license for the project works that authorizes the project, as changed.
(c) An application to amend an exemption may be filed only by the holder of an exemption. An application to amend an exemption will be governed by the Commission's regulations governing applications for exemption. The Commission will not accept applications in competition with an application to amend an exemption, unless the Director of the Office of Energy Projects determines that it is in the public interest to do so.
(a) Exemption from provisions other than licensing. An application for exemption of a small hydroelectric power project from provisions of Part I of the Act other than the licensing requirement will be processed and considered as part of the related application for license or amendment of license.
(b)(1) Consultation. The Commission will circulate a notice of application for exemption from licensing to interested agencies and Indian tribes at the time the applicant is notified that the application is accepted for filing.
(2) Non-standard terms and conditions. In approving any application for exemption from licensing, the Commission may prescribe terms or conditions in addition to those set forth in § 4.106 in order to:
(i) Protect the quality or quantity of the related water supply;
(ii) Otherwise protect life, health, or property;
(iii) Avoid or mitigate adverse environmental impact; or
(iv) Better conserve, develop, or utilize in the public interest the water resources of the region.
Any case-specific exemption from licensing granted for a small hydroelectric power project is subject to the following standard terms and conditions:
(a) Article 1. The Commission reserves the right to conduct investigations under sections 4(g), 306, 307, and 311 of the Federal Power Act with respect to any acts, complaints, facts, conditions, practices, or other matters related to the construction, operation, or maintenance of the exempt project. If any term or condition of the exemption is violated, the Commission may revoke the exemption, issue a suitable order under section 4(g) of the Federal Power Act, or take appropriate action for enforcement, forfeiture, or penalties under Part III of the Federal Power Act.
(b) Article 2. The construction, operation, and maintenance of the exempt project must comply with any terms and conditions that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and any state fish and wildlife agencies have determined are appropriate to prevent loss of, or damage to, fish or wildlife resources or otherwise to carry out the purposes of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, as specified in exhibit E of the application for exemption from licensing or in the comments submitted in response to the notice of exemption application.
(c) Article 3. The Commission may revoke this exemption if actual construction of any proposed generating facilities has not begun within two years or has not been completed within four years from the date on which this exemption was granted. If an exemption is revoked under this article, the Commission will not accept from the prior exemption holder a subsequent application for exemption from licensing for the same project within two years of the revocation.
(d) Article 4. This exemption is subject to the navigation servitude of the United States if the project is located on navigable waters of the United States.
(e) Article 5. This exemption does not confer any right to use or occupy any Federal lands that may be necessary for the development or operation of the project. Any right to use or occupy any Federal lands for those purposes must be obtained from the administering Federal land agencies. The Commission may accept a license application submitted by any qualified license applicant and revoke this exemption, if any necessary right to use or occupy Federal lands for those purposes has not been obtained within one year from the date on which this exemption was granted.
(f) Article 6. In order to best develop, conserve, and utilize in the public interest the water resources of the region, the Commission may require that the exempt facilities be modified in structure or operation or may revoke this exemption.
(g) Article 7. The Commission may revoke this exemption if, in the application process, material discrepancies, inaccuracies, or falsehoods were made by or on behalf of the applicant.
(h) Article 8. Any exempted small hydroelectric power project that utilizes a dam that is more than 33 feet in height above streambed, as defined in 18 CFR 12.31(c) of this chapter, impounds more than 2,000 acre-feet of water, or has a significant or high hazard potential, as defined in 33 CFR part 222, is subject to part 12 of the Commission's regulations, part 12 of this title (as they may be amended from time to time).
(i) Article 9. Before transferring any property interests in the exempt project, the exemption holder must inform the transferee of the terms and conditions of the exemption. Within 30 days of transferring the property interests, the exemption holder must inform the Commission of the identity and address of the transferee.
(a) General requirements. An application for exemption from licensing submitted under this subpart must contain the introductory statement, the exhibits described in this section, and, if the project structures would use or occupy any lands other than Federal lands, an appendix containing documentary evidence showing that applicant has the real property interests required under § 4.31(c)(2)(ii). The applicant must identify in its application all Indian tribes that may be affected by the project.
(b) Introductory statement. The application must include an introductory statement that conforms to the following format:
(1) [Name of applicant] applies to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an exemption for [name of project], a small hydroelectric power project that is proposed to have an installed capacity of 10 megawatts or less, from licensing under the Federal Power Act. [If applicable: The project is currently licensed as FERC Project No. ________.]
(2) The location of the project is:
(3) The exact name and business address of each applicant are:
(4) The exact name and business address of each person authorized to act as agent for the applicant in this application are:
(5) [Name of applicant] is [specify, as appropriate: a citizen of the United States or other identified nation; an association of citizens of the United States or other identified nation; a municipality; a state; or a corporation incorporated under the laws of (specify the United States or the state or nation of incorporation, as appropriate).]
(c) Exhibit A. Exhibit A must describe the small hydroelectric power project and its proposed mode of operation. To the extent feasible, the information in this exhibit may be submitted in tabular form. The applicant must submit the following information:
(1) A brief description of any existing dam and impoundment proposed to be utilized by the small hydroelectric power project and any other existing or proposed project works and appurtenant facilities, including intake facilities, diversion structures, powerhouses, primary transmission lines, penstocks, pipelines, spillways, and other structures, and the sizes, capacities, and construction materials of those structures.
(2) The number of existing and proposed generating units at the project, including auxiliary units, the capacity of each unit, any provisions for future units, and a brief description of any plans for retirement or rehabilitation of existing generating units.
(3) The type of each hydraulic turbine of the small hydroelectric power project.
(4) A description of how the power plant is to be operated, that is, run-of-river or peaking.
(5) A graph showing a flow duration curve for the project. Identify stream gauge(s) and period of record used. If a synthetic record is utilized, provide details concerning its derivation. Furnish justification for selection of installed capacity if the hydraulic capacity of proposed generating unit(s) plus the minimum flow requirements, if not usable for power production, is less than the stream flow that is exceeded 25 percent of the time.
(6) Estimations of:
(i) The average annual generation in kilowatt-hours;
(ii) The average and design head of the power plant;
(iii) The hydraulic capacity of each turbine of the power plant (flow through the plant) in cubic feet per second;
(iv) The number of surface acres of the man-made or natural impoundment used, if any, at its normal maximum surface elevation and its net and gross storage capacities in acre-feet.
(7) The planned date for beginning and completing the proposed construction or development of generating facilities.
(8) A description of the nature and extent of any repair, reconstruction, or other modification of a dam that would occur in association with construction or development of the proposed small hydroelectric power project, including a statement of the normal maximum surface area and normal maximum surface elevation of any existing impoundment before and after construction.
(d) Exhibit G. Exhibit G is a map of the project and boundary and must conform to the specifications of § 4.41(h) of this chapter.
(e) Exhibit E. This exhibit is an environmental report that must include the following information, commensurate with the scope and environmental impact of the construction and operation of the small hydroelectric power project. See § 4.38 for consultation requirements.
(1) A description of the environmental setting of the project, including vegetative cover, fish and wildlife resources, water quality and quantity, land and water uses, recreational uses, historical and archeological resources, and scenic and aesthetic resources. The report must list any endangered or threatened plant and animal species, any critical habitats, and any sites eligible for or included on the National Register of Historic Places. The applicant may obtain assistance in the preparation of this information from state natural resources agencies, the state historic preservation officer, and from local offices of Federal natural resources agencies.
(2) A description of the expected environmental impacts from the proposed construction or development and the proposed operation of the small hydroelectric power project, including any impacts from any proposed changes in the capacity and mode of operation of the project if it is already generating electric power, and an explanation of the specific measures proposed by the applicant, the agencies consulted, and others to protect and enhance environmental resources and values and to mitigate adverse impacts of the project on such resources.
(3) Any additional information the applicant considers important.
(f) Exhibit F. Exhibit F is a set of drawings showing the structures and equipment of the small hydroelectric facility and must conform to the specifications of § 4.41(g) of this chapter.
An application for exemption of a small hydroelectric power project from provisions of Part I of the Act other than the licensing requirement need not be prepared according to any specific format, but must be included as an identified appendix to the related application for license or amendment of license. The application for exemption must list all sections or subsections of Part I of the Act for which exemption is requested.