This Technical Guidance Note was primarily prepared as a contribution to the World Bank economic and sector work—mainstreaming environmental flow requirements into water resources investments and policy reforms jointly supported by the Environment Department and the Energy, Transport and Water Department. The technical note also forms a contribution to the Bank’s hydropower investments. The main objective of the note is to serve as a guidance document as opposed to a technical manual. It has been developed to assist World Bank staff and their clients to identify ways to better incorporate the benefits associated with environmental flow protection into hydropower dam projects.Most of the material in this note will be equally applicable to hydropower dams with either multiple objectives or a single objective, but the integration of environmental flow protection into projects with multiple objectives presents some special challenges. In addition, many issues covered in this note will be applicable to other types of water infrastructure projects.
Hydropower dams play a critical role in the health of river ecosystems throughout the United States, and hundreds of these dams will be relicensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the coming years. Such licenses lock in the operating and environmental protection requirements of such dams for periods of up to 50 years. Given the complex, dynamic nature of river ecosystems, as well as the impacts of climate change, there is pervasive scientific uncertainty about how to best manage dams for power production while protecting and enhancing environmental values such as water quality and fisheries. Unless dams are managed adaptively, with licenses that provide pathways for gathering and applying new knowledge and responding to changing conditions, we run the risk of locking in mistaken approaches and stymieing environmental improvements on our rivers for the next half century.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) is the newest licensing process for hydroelectric projects and is being implemented around the US today. The first license application filed under the ILP was submitted in December, 2006 by PPL Montana for the Mystic Lake Hydroelectric Project. The identification, evaluation and management of archaeological and historical (cultural) resources is an essential element of all hydroelectric licensing studies today. This paper details how the management of these non-renewable resources was made a part of the ILP on the Mystic Lake Project.
In April 2009, the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the development of hydrokinetic and renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). While the MOU resolved a long-standing jurisdictional impasse between the agencies, there remain unresolved regulatory matters regarding the approval and oversight of these emerging technologies. Now that the agencies have resolved the jurisdictional matter and committed to work together on this matter, however, such matters may be further resolved in a manner that would promote development of this vast renewable energy resource.