Electricity Regulation:

Electric Consumers Protection Act's Effects on Licensing Hydroelectric Dams

RCED-92-246: Published: Sep 18, 1992. Publicly Released: Oct 29, 1992.


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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC): (1) efforts to implement the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986 (ECPA); (2) use of temporary licenses for projects seeking relicensing; (3) requirements for ensuring public safety at hydroelectric projects; (4) requests for additional power capacity at existing hydroelectric power facilities; and (5) methods to determine whether projects are located on navigable waters.

GAO found that: (1) the changes in the licensing process include more structured mechanisms for increased interaction between agencies, applicants, and FERC; (2) changes in the licensing process require FERC to formally consider and discuss resource agencies' recommendations; (3) FERC has initiated steps to smooth the transition to the new licensing process; (4) FERC has accepted a higher proportion of resource agencies' recommendations since the enactment of ECPA; (5) ECPA has resulted in greater consideration of nondevelopmental issues; (6) FERC issues temporary licenses to projects that are waiting for a relicensing decision; and (7) FERC promotes public safety by requiring licensees to take specific safety measures and to report all safety-related incidents, and by undertaking some educational efforts.

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