This is the page opening:
The use of water in the West is often a contentious issue. The installation of micro-hydro systems reflects this concern through a heavy regulatory burden relative to other renewable energy technologies. Any new micro-hydropower facility is subject regulatory approval concerning surface water rights and quality in both Wyoming and Montana. Efforts are ongoing to reduce the regulatory burden, but there are several important steps to licensing.
- Establish water right – Simply having water flowing through your property does not necessarily mean that you have the right to use it, even for a non-consumptive use such as hydropower. Contact your state or county engineer, to verify your right to use the water without altering the benefits for users with more senior access rights.
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – All grid-connected non-federal hydroelectric facilities, regardless of size, must receive the approval of FERC. In an effort to reduce regulatory burden, FERC’s Small/Low-Impact Hydropower Program allows micro-hydro facilities to apply for an exemption. The exemption is available to projects under 5 MW that use an existing dam or conduit. As opposed to receiving a license, which must be renewed every 30-50 years, an exemption is generally issued in perpetuity. The FERC process may also require you to seek approval from other agencies, such as fish and wildlife, historic preservation, and U.S. Corps of Engineers.
In addition, you will need to complete other steps associated with the installation of electricity generating renewable energy systems, such as utility interconnection, inspections, and county construction permits. Although there are many variables, the entire process can take from 3-24 or more months, so it is important to start early in the project development process.
For additional licensing information, visit FERC’s website at http://www.ferc.gov/industries/hydropower.asp