Basin-Wide Approaches to Hydropower Relicensing: Case Studies and Considerations

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This report analyzes basin-wide approaches to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing process for non-federal hydropower projects. In the United States there are 1,044 active FERC-licensed hydroelectric projects with a total capacity of 56,103 MW. Of those FERC-licensed hydropower projects, 647 with a total capacity of 21,870 MW have license expiration dates from 2018-2037. FERC anticipates receiving a total of 1,012 hydropower filings for relicense through September 2032. Of those total filings, 551 are expected to be notices of intent for relicense and 461 are expected to be applications for a new license.The expected workload in conjunction with the time, cost, and complexity associated with issuing a single new license has led to initiatives that aim to increase the efficiency of the relicensing process. Federal and state regulators and licensees in states such as California, Maine, New York, and Wisconsin have begun to develop approaches to look at hydropower relicensing as part of a larger system - a river basin. Recognizing the number of hydropower projects within a shared waterway, these basin-wide approaches seek to coordinate different stages of the relicensing process for multiple projects at the same time.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages68
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A20-71979


  • clean water
  • FERC
  • hydropower
  • land management
  • licensing
  • relicensing


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