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News Release: March 30, 2011

FERC and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sign agreement on hydropower

Washington, D.C. - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) signed an updated agreement on March 30 to coordinate their efforts associated with evaluating proposals to construct and operate non-federal hydropower projects at USACE-owned facilities.

The Memorandum of Understanding PDF (MOU) establishes a framework for early coordination and participation between FERC and USACE to ensure timely review of proposed non-federal hydropower development applications.

"The intensified interest in developing renewable energy in this country has made hydropower an increasingly important player in the game," FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said. "Small hydropower development has become a highly desirable option, and today's MOU goes a long way to moving these resources forward. I thank the Corps for its commitment to this effort."

"The Corps of Engineers is committed to early coordination with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission when carrying out our regulatory responsibilities with regard to the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. This MOU provides a roadmap for identifying issues and resolving them, and integrates our efforts on these important hydropower projects. We look forward to working with the Commission and a new era of cooperation," said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

The revised MOU provides for:

  • Early involvement of FERC and USACE staff during the pre-filing stage of licensing and the environmental review process so issues are identified early and sufficient information is gathered to inform both agencies' decisions;
  • Establishing a schedule between FERC and USACE early in the process so all applicable review and approval activities occur concurrently to avoid unnecessary delays and redundancies;
  • Sharing of administrative and technical data as necessary between FERC and USACE; and
  • Establishing FERC as the lead federal agency for preparation of the environmental document, with USACE participating as a cooperating agency as needed.

Under the Federal Power Act, FERC issues preliminary permits and licenses for the development of non-federal hydropower projects, including proposals for construction of hydropower projects on or near federal dams or facilities operated by the USACE in waters of the U.S. USACE evaluates these proposals to ensure they comply with the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.