FERC requires hydro owners to meet emergency responders annually

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is requiring all hydroelectric project owners with an emergency action plan to conduct annual face-to-face meetings with local emergency responders.

Beginning Dec. 31 this year, FERC said project owners are to submit a report on the annual face-to-face meeting, including when, where, and how it was held. The parties are to review project emergency action plans and disseminate updates.

Although FERC previously discussed informally with owners the benefits of such meetings, now they are a requirement. FERC said it sees the meetings as an opportunity for owners to establish or strengthen relationships with local emergency agencies.

In letters to project owners, FERC's Division of Dam Safety and Inspections pointed out there usually is a minimum of five years between EAP exercises for a particular dam. During that period, the commission said, personnel could change, both within the owner's organization and within emergency management agencies. In addition to other benefits, annual meetings provide an opportunity for training of new personnel in the EAP, FERC said.

FERC said reports on the annual meetings are to include what was discussed, questions from the emergency responders, and a statement verifying that the owner has updated the EAP and destroyed all outdated information.

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