In 1958, the Federal Power Commission, predecessor to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), issued a 50-year license to Carolina Power and Light (predecessor to Progress Energy, which is a subsidiary of Duke Energy) for the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Project (FERC Project No. 2206). This license expired on April 30, 2008. The new license is pending and currently under review by the agency. FERC has issued renewable annual licenses for the project with the same terms and conditions of the original 1958 license until the new license is issued.
As required by FERC regulations, Progress Energy initiated the relicensing process for the Yadkin-Pee Dee Project five years prior to license expiration (April 30, 2003). FERC regulations also require that any application for a new license be filed no later than two years prior to the expiration of the current license, or April 30, 2006. As part of the process of developing the application for a new license, agency regulations require consultation with the public, resource agencies and affected Native American tribes prior to filing an application. Progress Energy has completed all of these relicensing requirements and is awaiting issuance of the new license by FERC.
During its relicensing process, Progress Energy followed FERC’s traditional three-stage consultation process coupled with active participation and input of interested parties in identifying pertinent issues related to project operations. The first stage consultation involved issuance of an Initial Consultation Document (ICD) by Progress Energy during February 2003, which described the project and project operations. A public joint meeting was held in March 2003 for resource agencies and interested parties to discuss the ICD and recommended studies. The second stage consultation consisted of conducting needed studies, and preparation of the license application for filing with FERC, which occurred in the 2004-2006 period. The third stage consultation consists of FERC review and approval of the license application. This began in 2006 and is ongoing.
Major steps in the three-stage relicensing process:
First Stage of Consultation
- Preparation and submittal of the Initial Consultation Document (ICD)
- Resource agency and public review of the ICD
- Joint meeting scheduled and held
- Written comments prepared by resource agencies and interested parties provided to Progress Energy.
Second Stage of Consultation
- Preparation of study plans
- Execution of identified studies
- Preparation and submission of the draft License Application to resource agencies and interested parties
- Comments on the draft License Application provided by resource agencies and interested parties
- Progress Energy, resource agencies and interested parties complete Second Stage Consultation
- Progress Energy prepares and files the License Application with FERC
Third Stage of Consultation
- FERC Issues Public Notice of Filing. Once the application is filed, FERC will issue a public notice, establish a deadline for filing requests for additional scientific studies, and establish the procedures for the submission of final amendments.
- FERC Notifies Applicant of Any Deficiencies. FERC will notify the applicant, by letter, of any deficiencies in the application and give the applicant a time frame for responding.
- FERC Issues a Notice of Application Acceptance/Rejection.
- FERC Issues a Public Notice of Acceptance. If accepted, FERC will issue a public notice soliciting comments and motions to intervene or protest, and establish dates for filing comments, interventions or protests.
- FERC Issuance of Ready for Environmental Analysis Notice. Under the traditional licensing process, FERC conducts scoping and prepares National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents. FERC staff prepares a scoping document for public comment and may hold a public meeting to discuss the scope of the NEPA document. When sufficient information is available for FERC staff to prepare the NEPA document, FERC will publish a ready for environment assessment (REA) notice requesting comments, recommendations, terms and conditions, and submittal of mandatory conditions.
- FERC Prepares NEPA Document. After the close of the REA notice comment period, FERC then prepares the NEPA document, typically with a draft for public comment.
- FERC Prepares a New License Order. Based on its assessment of the record and its final EA/EIS, FERC staff will prepare an order for consideration by the five FERC Commissioners.
Progress Energy has worked cooperatively and closely with local, state and federal resource agencies – and other parties with direct interests in the project – for many years. Progress Energy desires to, and will, continue this cooperation by expanding the consultation process beyond the minimum requirements of the traditional three-stage relicensing process. Progress Energy established various work groups focused on specific resource areas to review existing data, identify areas where additional resource information may be needed, and to jointly develop appropriate study plans for obtaining the needed information.
Following issuance of the ICD in early February 2003, Progress Energy held a joint meeting, which was open to the public. The purpose of the joint meeting was to describe the Project, review information provided in the ICD, and provide opportunity for identification of concerns and issues related to Project operation and effects. Progress Energy expanded the purposes of the joint meeting by also using it as an opportunity to invite resource agencies and interested parties to participate in one or more Resource Work Groups (RWG). The initial purpose of the RWGs was to (1) review existing data, (2) identify resource issues and needs, (3) identify additional studies and their goals, and (4) review study plans. Progress Energy intends to conduct needed studies using study plans that have been cooperatively developed through the RWGs.
Progress Energy wanted to allow sufficient time for the RWGs to become familiar with the project, project operations, and the resources potentially affected by the project. Therefore, the following schedule for relicensing activities occurred between the joint meeting and submittal of a license application by April 30, 2006.
Schedule of relicensing
Progress Energy's schedule milestones for relicensing the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Project were as follows:
- Joint Meeting/Site Visit - March 25 and 26, 2003
- ICD Comment Period - March 26 to May 26, 2003
- Organizational Meeting for RWGs - late April and early May 2003
- RWG Working Meetings (approximately every 6 to 8 weeks)
- Study Plans Completed - Dec. 31, 2003
- Studies Performed - 2004
- Draft License Application Submitted - November 2005
- Final License Application Submitted - April 30, 2006.