The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to facilitate the development of hydropower at the Corps’ federal facilities by synchronizing each agency’s permitting process.

An update to a previous MOU signed by the agencies in 2011, it offers project developers an approach designed to improve efficiency with the FERC and Corps processes, reduce permitting times, provide a single environmental document, and ensure more certainty and less risk.

The synchronized approach includes an environmental review phase followed by a detailed technical, engineering, and safety review phase.

  • Phase 1 – The developer, FERC staff, and Corps staff will coordinate early to discuss the developer’s proposal and the need for information to support the agencies’ permitting decisions. The environmental effects of the proposed project will be evaluated through a single, joint environmental document, and a FERC license will be issued.
  • Phase 2 – The developer coordinates with FERC and Corps staff to prepare a final project design and submits the design to FERC and the Corps. Once all of the Corps’ preconstruction requirements have been completed and FERC receives the Corps’ written construction approval, FERC will authorize construction of the project.

FERC issues preliminary permits and licenses to non-federal entities for the development of hydropower projects, including projects using federal dams or other federal facilities. The Corps operates water resources projects throughout the nation where potential exists. www.ferc.gov

$15 million to improve power grid security and resilience

The U.S. Department of Energy will provide up to $15 million, subject to congressional appropriations, to support efforts by the American Public Power Association (APPA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to enhance the culture of security within their utility members’ organizations.

Throughout the next three years, Energy Department funding will be used by APPA and NRECA to develop security tools, educational resources, updated guidelines, and training on common strategies that can be used by member organizations to improve cyber and physical security culture. Activities will include exercises, utility site assessments, and a comprehensive range of information sharing with their members. Approximately 26% of the nation’s electricity customers are served by municipal public power providers and rural electric cooperatives. www.energy.gov

DOE invests $82 million for nuclear technology

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $82 million in nuclear energy research, facility access, crosscutting technology development, and infrastructure awards in 28 states. In total, 93 projects were selected to receive funding to help push nuclear technologies toward commercialization and into the market. These awards provide funding for nuclear energy-related research through the Nuclear Energy University Program, Nuclear Science User Facilities, and Nuclear Energy Enabling Technology programs. In addition to financial support, a number of recipients will receive technical and regulatory assistance through the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative. www.energy.gov