In certain cases, projects may qualify for an exemption from licensing. Those receiving an exemption are exempt from the requirements of Part I of the Federal Power Act. However, the exempted project is subject to mandatory terms and conditions set by federal and state fish and wildlife agencies and by the Commission, and do not convey the right of eminent domain. Getting an exemption can be a more simplified process than applying for a license. Exemptions are issued in perpetuity.

The Commission issues two types of exemptions:

  1. Small hydropower projects, which are 10 megawatts or less, that will be built at an existing dam, or projects that utilize a natural water feature for head or an existing project that has a capacity of 10 megawatts or less and proposes to increase capacity.

    (Note: Following links are to external sites and you will be leaving FERC's website).
    • Definition [4.30(29)] 
    • Who may file [4.31(c)] 
    • Applicability [4.101
    • General provisions for case-specific exemption [4.103
    • Standard terms and conditions of case-specific exemption from licensing [4.106
    • Contents of application from licensing [4.107
  2. Conduit exemption that would be issued for constructing a hydropower project on an existing conduit (for example irrigation canal). Conduit exemptions are authorized for generating capacities 40 megawatts or less. The conduit has to have been constructed primarily for purposes other than power production.
    • Definition [4.30(28)] 
    • Who may file [4.31(b)] 
    • Applicability and purpose [4.90
    • Contents of exemption applications [4.92
    • Standard terms and conditions of case-specific exemption from licensing [4.94

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This page was last updated on September 11, 2023