B. Exemption

An exemption applies only in the limited circumstances where a project is located on an existing water supply conduit (such as an irrigation canal) on non-federal lands and where the project has a generation capacity of 15 MW or less or, if operated by a state or local government solely for municipal water supply, 40 MW or less;[1] or uses a natural stream feature (such as a waterfall) without a dam or other storage capacity and has a generation capacity of 5 MW or less.[2]  An exemption is perpetual, unlike a license, which has a term of years as discussed below in Section 2.3.5.  It includes whatever environmental conditions are submitted by fish and wildlife agencies, not subject to the normal limitations on scope, in order to prevent loss or damage to fish and wildlife resources.[3]  FERC may include any additional conditions necessary to insure the facility continues to comply with these conditions.[4]  A list of exempted projects is available at https://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/gen-info/licensing/exemptions.xls.

In the past 10 years, FERC has only granted very few exemptions for projects located on rivers, as distinct from conduits and related facilities.  As a result, this form of license is a not a focus of the Citizen Guide.  For further information about the exemption process, and for standard conditions of exemptions, see https://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower/gen-info/licensing.asp.


[1]               See 16 U.S.C. § 823a.  See also 18 C.F.R. §§ 4.30(b)(28), 4.90-4.96.

[2]               See 18 C.F.R. §§ 4.30(b)(29), 4.101-4.107.

[3]               See 16 U.S.C. § 823a; 18 C.F.R. § 4.106(b).

[4]               See id.