|Questions And Answers
What is a hydro license?
The Federal Power Act (FPA) of 1920 provides the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) exclusive authority to license all nonfederal hydroelectric projects that are located on navigable waterways or federal lands. Licenses are normally issued for a period of 30 to 50 years. Seattle City Light is permitted to operate the Boundary Project according to terms and conditions contained in a FERC license that was originally issued in 1961, and amended in 1982. The license expires on September 30, 2011.
What is relicensing?
The FERC relicensing process is a thorough evaluation of all aspects of a hydroelectric project. The process requires years of extensive planning, including environmental studies, agency consensus and public involvement. The Federal Power Act (FPA) was amended in 1986 by the Electric Consumers Protection Act (ECPA). The new law requires FERC to consider both power and non-power uses of the water resource, such as fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreational activities.
Why are we relicensing Boundary?
The Boundary Project is a significant factor in Seattle City Lightís ability to provide its customers with some of the lowest electrical rates in urban America. Among the reasons Seattle City Light will be relicensing the Boundary Project:
How does the FERC Integrated licensing process (ILP) work?
- To provide electrical utility service to customer/owners at the lowest possible cost.
- To provide a low-cost energy source that is renewable and non-polluting, and which has a significant positive economic impact on the economy of Seattle and Pend Oreille County.
- To continue a commitment to protect and enhance the natural resources (fish and wildlife) of the Boundary Project.
Seattle City Light is required to follow strict rules and regulations in the relicensing process. The formal procedure Seattle City Light will use is known as the Integrated Licensing Process. Additional information is available on the
What does City Light know about the FERC relicensing experience of other utilities and are we prepared for how complex the process will be?
We have monitored other relicensing experiences in the region over the past few years. More importantly, we were engaged in the mid-1980ís to mid-1990ís in relicensing our Skagit projects. We worked collaboratively with state and federal agencies, tribes and other key stakeholder groups on very complicated issues. We were successful in producing a settlement agreement on all the key issues. This agreement was submitted to FERC and became the basis for our new license to operate the Skagit projects.
Why does relicensing take so long?
The hydropower relicensing process includes identification of potential impacts to a water body and surrounding habitat by a hydropower dam. Many federal and several state agencies have jurisdiction over the variety of issues that will be addressed. Some federal agencies and the Washington State Department of Ecology have the authority to prescribe conditions on a new license to operate the dam. Identifying the issues, agreeing on how to study them, and reaching agreement on how to address them in a final license is a dynamic process involving all of these parties. Many of the environmental issues that will be addressed through relicensing involve studies that require a minimum of two study seasons. These two study seasons are built into the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP).
What types of process enhancement to the ILP is City Light planning for the project?
City Light has begun the process of early consultation with key stakeholder and tribal representatives that we understand have an interest in the process. We are in the process of developing a collaborative process that meets both the Cityís needs and those of interested parties.
Who should be involved?
A new federal license for the Boundary Project has an impact on numerous individuals and groups, including Seattle City Light ratepayers, Pend Oreille County residents and businesses, Indian Tribes, the tourism and recreation industries, resource agencies, environmental groups, and government officials.
Why should I get involved?
Seattle City Light intends to meet or exceed FERC requirements for public involvement in the relicensing process. To facilitate these efforts, Seattle City Light will develop an extensive public outreach plan to provide numerous opportunities for clear, comprehensive and two-way information sharing between Seattle City Light and the public. Over the course of the relicensing process, you will be kept informed about issues through this web page, newsletters, public meetings, small group or person-to-person meetings, and presentations. Seattle City Light encourages public involvement and comment throughout the relicensing process.
If you are a customer/owner of Seattle City Light, there are reasons for you to get involved in the relicensing process.
How do I get involved?
- You may be interested in a specific issue or resource area (such as fish, water quality or land use) and would like to give input by attending meetings, or by written comment.
- Environmental studies, enhancement measures, and possible changes to existing Project operations all carry a cost that will impact electric rates for Seattle City Light.
Ask to be added to the mailing list. You may elect to participate in the relicensing process by being added to the mailing list (to receive meeting notices, minutes, newsletters, etc.), or by attending public meetings, small group or person-to-person meetings and special presentations.
How do I contact a specific relicensing team member?
Write a note or arrange for a presentation. Written comments are welcome. Arrange for a special presentation by the Seattle City Lightís relicensing team to your organization or club. Your written comment, question, concern, position or request for a presentation can be mailed to
Seattle City Light has formed a
core relicensing team
, responsible for implementation of the relicensing plan. Click on the link above for a list of the team members and area of responsibilities. If you have any questions or comments regarding the relicensing process, please feel free to contact any of these individuals.