Information on Relicensing Cases at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

RCED-84-116: Published: May 15, 1984. Publicly Released: May 22, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the relicensing of existing non-Federal hydroelectric facilities by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), focusing on whether: (1) the public benefits when competing applications are filed for a facility; and (2) FERC can serve as a surrogate for competition when no competing application is filed. To qualify for a hydroelectric project license, an applicant must submit a comprehensive plan to develop and use the water resources for recreational and environmental purposes as well as power generation.

GAO reviewed nine competitive relicensing cases and observed that, in five cases, amendments to the original applications were submitted after competing applications had been filed for the same project. GAO noted that, of the cases with amendments, three private utilities proposed to upgrade their power operation plans and two proposed to include major recreational improvements after competing applications had been filed. In a review of 10 uncontested cases, GAO found that FERC required enhancements to the operation of existing facilities during the relicensing process to improve fish and wildlife plans, water quality, irrigation, and recreational facilities. Finally, of the five pending applications reviewed, GAO found that FERC had requested additional information from two of the applicants.

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