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Hydropower Filing Guide

Getting Involved

Resource Guide to Hydropower Licensing:

Under the Federal Power Act, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the exclusive authority to license nonfederal hydropower projects on navigable waterways and federal lands. Building and operating hydropower projects can affect the natural environment and result in changes to land use, which may be of concern to local citizens and non-governmental organizations. 

We want you to know:

How the Commission's hydropower procedures work; What rights you have; How you can participate in the licensing process; and What environmental issues and safety concerns may be involved.


The Commission issues initial (original) hydropower licenses for periods between 30 to 50 years. When a license expires, the Commission can:

  • Issue a new license (relicense);
  • The federal government may take over the project, or
  • the project may be decommissioned.

Many hydropower licensing concerns involve natural resource issues. For example, hydropower project operations generally alter natural river flows, which may affect fisheries and recreational activities. Project construction or expansion may also affect wildlife habitats, wetlands, or cultural resources. Landowners and communities downstream of a project also want to be assured that the project dam is safe.

The Commission's staff prepares an environmental analysis of every hydropower proposal. This is done both for new projects (original license) and for existing projects (relicense). Before the environmental analysis is prepared, Commission staff may hold public scoping meetings in the local vicinity of the project, and may conduct a site visit to the project. The purpose of scoping is to identify issues relating to the construction or continued operation of a project.

Citizens and interested groups have a number of opportunities to participate in the licensing process, in order to identify potential issues and to share their views on how to address the effects of the project on the natural and human environment. This includes a pre-filing meeting required to be held before the application is filed with the Commission, during the scoping process, and when the draft environmental report is issued.

If you own land that may be affected by a proposed new project, or expansion of an existing project, you will have an opportunity to negotiate directly with the company regarding compensation. If the Commission approves the license application and you fail to reach an agreement with the company, access to and compensation for use of your land will be set by a court.

The Commission's process for assessing applications for hydropower projects is open and public and designed to keep all interested parties informed. 



History of Oil Pipeline Regulation

Oil Pipeline Ratemaking Methodologies

Staff Oil Pipeline Handbooks

Filing Guidelines:

Guides for filing Open Access Transmission Tariffs, FOIA, CEII, a Request to Correct Information and a Request for No-Action Letter.

Learn More about Filing Guidelines

Submission Guidelines:

These instructions apply to filings made with the Commission using any media (eFiling, CD/DVD, paper, and other media formats). They are intended to instruct new filers and provide a reference to frequent filers.

We currently accept filings through the following channels: 1) eFiled at the Commission website; 2) eFiled using Forms software provided by the Commission, or 3) filed on paper or on CD/DVD at FERC Headquarters, or with one of the FERC Regional Offices (for filings related to Hydropower safety and inspections).

Beginning in March 2008 almost all types of filings can be securely eFiled via the Commission website. We recommend the use of this service since it allows FERC to process and post filings faster and more efficiently, saves paper and mailing/delivery costs, and is gentler on the environment. For the filings that cannot be eFiled using the Commission website we recommend filing on CD/DVD media to reduce the number of paper copies that must be submitted.  Starting April 1, 2010, tariff filings as defined by Order No. 714 will be accepted electronically under specified transition rules.  After September 30, 2010, all tariff filings must be filed utilizing the eTariff format through eFiling.

Failure to follow these instructions could either cause the Secretary to reject your filing or the Commission to experience delays reviewing your filing. It is your responsibility to file correctly.

When making any filing other than a comment on a FERC proceeding or rulemaking, you should be familiar with FERC regulations in Title 18 of the Code of Federal Regulations (18 C.F.R Parts 1-399 ). Part 385 contains the agency’s procedural rules, but there are specific requirements in other parts of Title 18 for filings in the Electric, Natural Gas Pipeline, Oil Pipeline, and Hydropower program areas. The Commission’s Regulations, updated to reflect all Final Rules published in the Federal Register, are available online in Title 18 of the Code of Federal Regulations (18 C.F.R. ).

Audio/Video Guidelines:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) provides audio and video access to FERC public meetings and conferences through two outside sources.

FERC now provides free current live webcast and previous webcasts of all FERC Open Meetings and most Washington, DC–based technical conferences. Webcasts are available through The Capital Connection to the first 750 users.

FERC open meetings can be viewed on live television over George Mason University's (GMU) Capitol Connection . The Capitol Connection also broadcasts various audio and video segments online, by phone bridge and satellite. Prices for services vary.

Individuals can also purchase copies of taped FERC events from Capitol Connection in the following areas:

  • FERC Commission meetings
  • Technical conferences
  • Oral arguments
  • Other conferences that draw significant public interest

Prices are determined by event length.

For more information about Capitol Connection services, please call 703-993-3100, visit their website,  or email

How-To Guides:

Guides on several subjects that are helpful in showing the user how to use online resources to get involved.

For more Information

Contact Information

This page was last updated on July 20, 2022