lake oroville

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has three hydropower licenses and two conduit exemptions under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an independent agency that licenses and regulates non-federal hydropower projects.

Hydropower Licensing

Under the authority of the Federal Power Act, FERC has the exclusive authority to license most non-federal hydropower projects located on navigable waterways or federal lands, or connected to the interstate electric grid.

Applicants for licenses may use the Integrated, Traditional, or Alternative Licensing Processes. Effective July 23, 2005, the Integrated Licensing Process (ILP) is the default process for filing an application for an original, new, or subsequent license. FERC approval is required to use either the Traditional or the Alterative Licensing Processes.

Hydropower Compliance

Once a license or exemption is granted, FERC staff ensures that regulated entities remain in compliance with the terms and conditions of their respective licenses or exemptions to protect, mitigate and enhance beneficial public uses of hydropower projects. FERC staff is responsible for administration and tracking of license requirements, inspecting site conditions, investigating compliance issues, and assessing penalties for license violations.

DWR’s roles and responsibilities for hydropower license activities are covered in Water Resources Engineering Memorandum No.20e (WREM 20e). Compliance of FERC licenses is tracked, communicated, and coordinated through the Hydropower License Planning and Compliance Office (HLPCO). HLPCO serves as the primary DWR contact with FERC on all hydropower license compliance matters and works to create an internal culture of proactive compliance across DWR. HLPCO is responsible for assessing compliance of resources and funding; monitoring, compliance performance; and fostering uniform compliance practices.

Several divisions within DWR have responsibilities related to license compliance activities as described in
WREM 20e. Of these divisions, the majority of the work is carried out by the Division of Operations and Maintenance (O&M), which is responsible for carrying out the terms and conditions of the licenses and ensuring work is completed successfully and on time. In addition, O&M is responsible for holding routine FERC inspections, technical compliance, environmental compliance, Recreation Plan compliance, and preparation of the Annual Report and Power Systems Statement required by FERC. The Field Divisions that manage facilities within the FERC boundary, Oroville Field Division (P-2100) and Southern Field Division (P-2426), are part of O&M and implement work that needs to be completed at the physical site locations.

Other DWR organizations with responsibilities relating to FERC license compliance include the Division of Engineering, Office of the Chief Counsel, State Water Project Analysis Office, Division of Environmental Services, and the Power and Risk Office.

For additional information on FERC please visit their website at Information on FERC’s hydropower program may be found at