Learning How to Move Forward under FERC’s New Safety Regulations

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Learning How to Move Forward under FERC’s New Safety Regulations


April 25, 2022


Ellen Faulkner, Senior Project Manager, Ayres Associates Inc.


Learning How to Move Forward under FERC’s New Safety Regulations

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Last month, the amended federal rules governing the safety of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-licensed hydropower projects took effect. During the rulemaking period, the proposed amendments attracted considerable industry attention, including formal comments by National Hydropower Association (NHA) and other industry groups, as well as individual licensees.

The rules now in place, along with corresponding chapters of FERC’s Engineering Guidelines, will require stepped-up effort on the part of licensees, consultants, and FERC’s Division of Dam Safety and Inspections. Some licensees have already been notified that an upcoming independent consultant’s safety inspection must be a ‘comprehensive assessment.’

As described in the new guidance, the comprehensive assessment is a deep dive into the history, operation, design, construction, and performance of the project. The assessment involves an extended planning and reporting process and, potentially, multiple technical experts.

Other updates to the rules involve independent consultant qualifications, public safety reporting, and codification of Owners’ Dam Safety Program guidance.

The upcoming NHA Midwest Regional Meeting, which will be held May 10 – 11 in St. Louis, Missouri, will feature a session covering these important topics, titled “Strategies for Midwest Owner/Operators and Consultants to Adapt to Changes.” This panel will focus on licensees’ and consultants’ strategies, concerns, and adaptations as the industry moves forward under the new rules, including the comprehensive assessment.

In addition, NHA’s Midwest Regional Meeting will cover other Midwest-specific content, such as how the new Infrastructure Act will affect regional asset owners, developers, and suppliers. This session, which is titled “Infrastructure & Jobs Investment Act: How can Midwest Hydropower Benefit?” will feature Tim Welch, Hydropower Program Manager in the Water Power Technologies Office of the U.S. Department of Energy. DOE is administering the $900 million in grants authorized by the Infrastructure Act.

Click here to learn more about the NHA Midwest Regional Meeting.