5 Traditional Licensing Process

The Traditional Licensing Process (TLP) is the old-timer of the processes available for a licensing decision.  The TLP is a notice-and-comment process, which FERC has used in some form since the enactment of FPA Part I in 1935.  In a TLP, the licensee drives the process until the filing of the license application.  It consults with agencies and other participants in a limited and formal manner.  It periodically holds meetings, receives written comments, and responds in kind.  OEP participates in the process in a meaningful manner only after the licensee files its application.  Then, it provides notices which trigger written responses by the participants.  Because of the comparative efficiencies of the ILP (discussed in Section 4), a licensee may use the TLP only if it requests and receives FERC’s permission.

The TLP consists of the Notice of Intent; First-Stage Consultation (Study Plan Development); Second-Stage Consultation (Study Plan Implementation and Application Development); and Third-Stage Consultation (Application Filing and Environmental Review).  These stages include 16 discrete steps, as shown in the attached diagram.



The TLP specifies the deadlines for some, but not all, of these steps.  In particular, it is silent as to the deadlines for steps during the Third-Stage Consultation (discussed below in Section 5.4), including the notices and documents that relate to environmental review.  Table 6 shows deadlines as provided in the relevant rule, 18 C.F.R § 4.34.


Timing of Steps in TLP


Step Number

Step Description

Time (Relative To Prior Step, unless Otherwise Indicated)

Step 1a (pre-filing activity)

Notice of Intent (NOI), Pre-Application Document (PAD), and Request to Use TLP


5-5.5 years before license expiration

Step 1b

Public Notice of NOI, PAD, and TLP Request to affected resource agencies, tribes, and interested public

concurrent with NOI

Step 2

Comments on NOI, PAD, and TLP Request

30 days

Step 3

Notice of Commencement (NOC) and approval of TLP

60 days after Step 1b

Step 4

Joint Meeting for Consultation with agencies, tribes, and the public

30-60 days (notice of Meeting must be given at least 14 days in advance)

Step 5

Comments; Study Requests

60 days (interested parties may request an additional 60-day extension for Comments)

Step 6

Study Plans

Produced during Steps 2-5

Step 7

Draft License Application and Study Results

no deadline

Step 8

Comments on Draft Application

90 days

Step 9

Final Application

no later than two years before expiration of license

Step 10 (post-filing activity)

Public Notice of Application

14 days

Step 11

Additional Information/Study Requests (AIR)

60 days

Step 12

FERC Decision on Adequacy of Application; Notice of Acceptance

no deadline

Step 13a

Comments; Interventions

60 days

Step 13b


AIR; Applicant responds

90 days

Step 14a


NEPA Scoping, Scoping Document 1 (SD1)

no deadline

Step 14b

Public Meeting

30 days

Step 15

Comments on SD1; preparation of Scoping Document 2 (SD2) if necessary

30 days

Step 16

Commission Issues AIR


Step 17

Notice of Ready for Environmental Analysis (REA)

60-90 days

Step 18

Comments on REA; Water Quality Certification; Final Conditions

60 days

Step 19

Reply Comments

45 days

Step 20a

Non-draft EA

no deadline

Step 20b

Draft EA or EIS

no deadline

Step 21

Final EA or EIS

no deadline

Step 22

Final License Order

upon completion of all previous Steps

Below, we describe the stages of the TLP.  This section primarily highlights the differences with the ILP, in order to avoid repetition and recognize that the ILP is the default process.  If you are interested in the detailed steps of the TLP, you should review FERC’s Licensing Handbook, Section 4.