Original licenses are currently restricted to newly constructed projects or existing projects that come under the Commission's jurisdiction. Licenses are for a 30- to 50-year period. A license conveys the right of eminent domain. The commission has three licensing processes.
A potential developer of hydroelectric project must file an application for license or exemption from licensing if the project is or will be:
- located on a navigable waterway of the U.S.;
- occupying U.S. lands;
- utilizing surplus water or water power from a U.S. government dam; or
- located on a body of water over which Congress has Commerce Clause jurisdiction, project construction occurred on or after August 26, 1935, and the project affects the interests of interstate or foreign commerce.