FERC chairman: License settlement talks should include FERC staff

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Joseph Kelliher warns parties to include FERC staff when negotiating complicated settlement agreements for licensing of some hydroelectric projects.

"When a relicense or licensing is complicated, it is sound to involve FERC staff to avoid the prospect of a settlement being modified by the commission down the road," Kelliher said at a briefing following a Dec. 18 commission meeting.

If commission staff members are not involved in a complicated license proceeding, there is a greater probability the ultimate settlement will include terms that cannot be included in a FERC license, Kelliher said. Such instances, he added, could require FERC to modify a license and sever certain terms of a settlement.

Kelliher did not refer to specific companies or projects in his statement, which he intended to serve as a general warning or guidance to parties involved in settlements.

Among recent major settlements in which licenses remain to be issued is one between Avista Corp. and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in support of relicensing the utility's five hydroelectric developments, totaling 137.65 MW, on the Spokane River in Washington and Idaho. (HNN 12/18/08) In another, the federal government, the states of California and Oregon, and licensee PacifiCorp reached an agreement in principle that could lead to eventual removal of four dams of the 161.338-MW Klamath hydroelectric project in Oregon. (HNN 11/18/08)

In 2006, FERC issued a policy statement providing guidance on the types of settlement agreement terms that can be included in FERC licenses without incurring subsequent modification by the commission. (HNN 9/25/06)

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