FERC issues guidance for hydro development, releases list of non-powered federal dams

23 October 2019

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the US has issued guidance for the development of closed-loop pumped storage projects at abandoned mine sites and a list of existing non-powered federal dams that it and other agencies agree have the greatest potential for non-federal hydropower development.

Both actions fulfill FERC’s requirements under Sections 3003 and 3004 of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA).

As directed by AWIA, FERC staff conducted a workshop on 4 April 2019, to explore potential opportunities for the development of closed-loop pumped storage projects at abandoned mine sites. The new document issued by FERC, based on information provided at the workshop, identifies resources and provides information to assist prospective applicants considering the development of closed-loop pumped storage projects at these sites.

A closed-loop pumped storage project is generally defined as a pumped storage project that uses reservoirs situated at locations other than natural waterways, lakes, wetlands and other natural surface water features. Types of reservoirs that lend themselves to closed-loop operations include reservoirs located in surface mine pits or underground mines.

FERC developed the list of existing non-powered federal dams jointly with the Departments of the Army, the Interior, and Agriculture as directed by the AWIA. On December 13, 2018, the Commission initiated consultation with the Department Secretaries by requesting agency points of contact for the purposes of receiving and providing input on a draft list of non-powered federal dams. The final list was developed in consultation with representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and the Department of Energy.

The final list includes 230 non-powered federal dams, sorted by potential capacity, that FERC and the Department Secretaries agree have the greatest potential for non-federal hydropower development.



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