Electricity Regulation:

FERC's Efforts to Monitor and Enforce Hydroelectric Requirements

RCED-94-162: Published: May 24, 1994. Publicly Released: Jun 27, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) efforts to ensure that nonfederal hydroelectric projects comply with its safety and environmental requirements, focusing on its compliance: (1) monitoring; (2) investigations; and (3) enforcement activities.

GAO found that: (1) FERC monitoring procedures and practices are adequate to ensure that nonfederal hydroelectric projects comply with its requirements; (2) FERC inspects nonfederal hydroelectric projects once every 1-1/2 years and high-hazard projects annually; (3) although the current FERC workforce has been able to adequately monitor projects' compliance with existing requirements, the current workforce may be insufficient to ensure their compliance with future environmental requirements; (4) FERC procedures for investigating noncompliance allegations are adequate and generally followed; (5) FERC investigated all of the allegations it received between 1989 and 1993; (6) in 1993, FERC reduced its average investigation time from 347 to 89 days; (7) FERC monitoring and enforcement efforts to ensure structural soundness, public safety, and environmental protection have been effective; (8) between 1989 and 1993, the number of violations committed decreased from 157 to 87 and the number of enforcement actions increased from 26 to 37; (9) FERC levied $3.7 million in fines and revoked 8 licenses against facilities that were not in compliance; and (10) FERC attributes the reduction in project noncompliance to the increased scope and proficiency of FERC inspection and compliance work.

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