On November 13, 2018, FERC issued a notice providing a schedule for implementing S. 3021, the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 ("AWIA").

On October 23, 2018, President Trump signed the AWIA, after the U.S. Senate passed the AWIA on October 10, 2018 (see October 16, 2018 edition of the WER). The AWIA amends Part 1 of the Federal Power Act as it pertains to preliminary permits, qualifying conduit hydropower facilities, and hydropower licenses in order to promote hydropower development. The AWIA also requires the Commission to: (1) initiate two rulemaking processes, within 180 days of enactment of the AIWA, establishing expedited licensing processes to issue and amend licenses for qualifying facilities at existing nonpowered dams and for closed-loop pumped storage projects; (2) collaborate with the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Secretary of Agriculture, to develop a list of non-powered Federal dams with potential for non-Federal hydropower development, within 12 months after enactment of the AWIA; and (3) hold a workshop within six months of enactment of the AWIA to explore potential opportunities for development of closed-loop pumped storage projects at abandoned mine sites, and issue guidance within one year of enactment of the AWIA to assist applicants for licenses or preliminary permits for closed-loop pumped storage projects at abandoned mine sites.

In order to fulfill its obligations under the AWIA, FERC established three dockets: (1) RM19-6-000 (Licensing Regulations under America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018); AD19-7-000 (Nonpowered Dams List); and AD19-8-000 (Closed-loop Pumped Storage Projects at Abandoned Mines Guidance). In addition, FERC established a schedule with abbreviated deadlines to ensure it meets the AWIA's 180-day deadlines. The deadlines are as follows:

November 29, 2018 Deadline for federal and state agencies and Indian tribes to file a statement requesting participation on the interagency task force ("ITF")
December 12, 2018 FERC staff will hold coordination session for the ITF to discuss proposals for the expedited licensing processes
January/February 2019 FERC staff will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NOPR") for the expedited licensing processes
February 2019 FERC staff will hold a workshop for closed-loop pumped storage project at abandoned mine sites
March 2019 NOPR public comment period will close
April 2019 FERC will issue final rule for expedited processes
April 2019 FERC staff will provide applicable federal agencies, including the Secretaries of Army, Interior, and Agriculture, FERC staff's draft list of existing nonpowered federal dams having the greatest potential for non-Federal hydropower development
August 2019 FERC staff will issue the final nonpowered Federal dams list
September 2019 FERC staff will issue guidance for closed-loop pumped storage projects at abandoned mine sites

The notice establishing the schedule pursuant to AWIA is available here.

More information on the AWIA is accessible here.

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