Hydropower Policy Modernization Act of 2017
This bill designates the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the lead agency for coordinating all federal authorizations and reviews related to hydropower license applications, including compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.FERC must establish a process to set a schedule for the review and disposition of each federal authorization following the filing of an application for a license, license amendment, or exemption.
The bill expands the definition of "renewable energy" to include electric energy generated from hydropower projects.The bill authorizes FERC to extend the length of time of preliminary permits and to extend the time limit that a licensee has to commence construction on a hydropower project.
The bill authorizes the use of trial-type hearings to resolve disputes related to a hydropower license application. Under certain circumstances, the hearing may be demanded by applicants or other parties for any disputed issues of material fact.
FERC must consult with federal and state agencies and the public to compile best practices for performing studies and environmental reviews in connection with the timely and efficient completion of hydropower license proceedings.
The bill creates a process to approve license amendments for qualifying hydropower projects.