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Relicensing Terms

Section 401 Water Quality Certification A certification that the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires of any applicant whose activities may result in a discharge to a water body. The state where the discharge originates issues or waives the certification.

Annual License The license the FERC issues each year pursuant to Section 15(a) of the Federal Power Act. The license begins with the expiration of the original license and continues through the issuance of a new license for the project.

Collaborative - A relicensing process in which the licensee and stakeholders work jointly to reach consensus on relicensing issues. A collaborative approach may be pursued through either a Traditional Licensing Process or the Alternative Licensing Process.

Consensus A general term that classifies the level of stakeholder buy-in to a particular relicensing decision. Participants in individual licensing processes may define what they determine to constitute consensus on particular issues.

Environmental Assessment (EA) / Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Both of these documents are an assessment and summary of a project's overall environmental issues and their resolution. They are prepared as part of the relicensing process and are requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) The federal regulatory body with exclusive authority to license nonfederal hydropower projects located on navigable waterways. In the hydro relicensing process, FERC conducts an independent analysis of the licensee's proposal to determine whether to grant a new license. FERC staff forwards recommendations to FERC Commissioners for the decision. Commissioners may delegate the final license decision to the Director of the Office of Hydropower Licensing.

FERC project boundary A boundary that defines the lands and facilities of the licensee's operating obligation and the FERC's jurisdiction.

Federal Resource Agencies Federal resource agencies that can be involved in a hydro relicensing, depending on the nature and geographic location of the project and the resources affected, can include the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the United States Forest Service (USFS), United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Park Service (NPS) and others.

First Stage Consultation Package (FSCP) A formal document that provides basic information on the hydro project and its environment. Under the Traditional Licensing Process, it is called Project Information Document. Under the Alternative Licensing Process it is called an Initial Consultation Document (ICD).

Licensee The entity that is the "holder"/applicant for the license. The licensee works with the various stakeholders to develop a relicensing application that meets the requirements of FERC's regulations. This includes consulting with federal, state and local resource agencies, as well as others affected by the project. The licensee is responsible for providing project information to the resource agencies and the public and for conducting environmental and/or engineering studies to address issues or concerns regarding resources affected by the project.

Licensing Processes Methods by which a hydro project licensee may choose to renew the FERC license.

Alternative Licensing Process (ALP) This is a FERC hydro relicensing process. It is an alternative to the traditional method of renewing the license. It is an approved optional process that produces the NEPA EA early in the process. Stakeholders determine the rest.

Traditional Licensing Process (TLP) This is a FERC hydro relicensing process. It is regulatory process prescribed for consultations, studies and application preparation which includes the preparation of an EA or EIS after the application is filed. This process contains three stages of consultation. There are several variations of this process: hybrid, collaborative, etc.)

National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) - The legislation that requires the FERC to conduct an independent analysis of a licensee's proposal to determine whether to issue a new license and to establish the conditions that should be included in any such license. The NEPA analysis includes the preparation of an EA or EIS.

NGOs Non-Governmental Organizations or NGOs are organized groups - often non-profit - representing environmental, conservation, recreational or others that are not affiliated with state or local governments. Examples include the BASS Federation, American Rivers, American Whitewater Affiliation and Trout Unlimited, to name a few. NGOs can be very active in the relicensing process, often depending on the issue and location of the project.

Notice of Intent Formal notification to FERC of the licensee's intention to renew the current license.

Pre-project Conditions Physical and environmental conditions at the project site before the project was built.

Public Individuals directly affected by the hydro project. Examples include: landowners along the reservoirs and downstream of the project, anglers, recreation users, industrial and municipal water users, residents of local communities and electric customers whose power is generated from the project.

Section 10(a) - The section of the Federal Power Act that requires the FERC to give equal consideration to power and non-power uses to provide the best public use of the waterway.

Section 10(j) The section of the Federal Power Act that requires the FERC to consider fish and wildlife terms and conditions as recommended by state and federal fish and wildlife agencies for the protection of such resources.

Section 106 - The section of the National Historic Preservation Act which requires the FERC to consider the effects of project construction and/or operation on objects or places eligible for or included in the National Register of Historic Places. The FERC must also provide the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment.

Section 18 - The section of the Federal Power Act which states that the FERC "shall require the construction, maintenance, and operation by a licensee (at its own expense) of such fishways as may be prescribed by the Secretary of Interior or the Secretary of Commerce, as appropriate."

Section 4(e) - The section of the Federal Power Act that applies when project works (dam, powerhouse, etc.) are located on federally-owned lands that are part of a reservation. This section authorizes federal land management agencies (e.g. U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management) to issue mandatory conditions to be included in the license to ensure that project operations do not interfere with the intended use of the federal reservation.

State Resource Agencies State agencies that have jurisdiction over the use and protection of the states' natural resources, such as fish and wildlife, state threatened and endangered species, water quality, wetlands, recreation facilities and access and cultural resources. Like federal resource agencies, state resource agencies usually participate in scoping issues and alternatives, informing the licensee as to the studies they think are necessary, reviewing and commenting on the draft application, reviewing the final license application and providing final recommendations for license terms and conditions to the FERC.

Statutory Conditioning Authorities, Mandatory Conditioning Authorities - Statutory conditioning authorities are federal or state agencies and affected tribes with the authority to mandate and/or recommend hydropower license conditions to the FERC. Mandatory conditioning authorities like DOI (USFWS), DOC (NMFS), USFS or state water quality agencies and some tribes, for example, are authorized under the FPA or the Clean Water Act (CWA) to set mandatory conditions, which must be included in any license issued by the FERC.