Skip to main content

Challenges in the post-licensing stage of U.S. hydropower development: Current status and some potential solutions...

by Rocio Uria Martinez, Megan M Johnson, Rui Shan
Publication Type
Journal Name
The Electricity Journal
Publication Date
Page Number

The issuance of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license is an important milestone in the development process of new U.S. hydropower projects. The complexity and uncertain timeline of the licensing process have been often cited as a key deterrent to new hydropower installations in the United States. However, very little attention has been paid to post-licensing timelines and attrition rates. This article explores the challenges faced by developers in bringing their FERC-licensed hydropower projects to the construction stage. Post-licensing activities to be completed before starting construction include obtaining additional permitting from other federal or state agencies, completing the technical design, securing financing, and in most cases, negotiating a power purchase agreement. For the set of projects that obtained a FERC license between 2007 and 2018, we assembled a dataset—combining information from FERC dockets and responses from a questionnaire to developers—to calculate attrition rates and development timelines and to examine the reasons for delays and cancellations.