Water Power License Fee Stakeholder Workgroup

Youngs Creek Dam photo.  Photographer: Mark Mulligan. From Chad Brown, WA Dept. of Ecology.

Background

Washington State assesses fees to FERC-licensed public and private hydropower projects under FERC authority in Washington State to use state waters for power generation. Fees enable Washington State agencies to help the hydropower industry meet federal licensing requirements that protect water quality. They also protect, mitigate, and enhance fish, wildlife, and habitat. License fees required for these water power projects will expire June 30, 2017 (Revised Code of Washington 90.16.050).

During the 2015 Legislative Session, House Bill 1130Concerning Water Power License Fees was introduced which would have eliminated the fee’s sunset clause. The Agency Request Legislation would have affected these fees by proposing to eliminate the sunset date while maintaining the current fee assessment established under State Senate Bill (SSB) 5881 in the 2007 legislative session.

This legislation would have ensured that funds would continue to be available to help fund Ecology and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff who respond to the needs of FERC-licensed hydropower operators working to implement license conditions, settlement agreements, water quality compliance schedules, and other water quality permit requirements (known as "401 certifications"). Implementation of environmental goals continue for decades, as FERC licenses span 30-50 years.

Stakeholder Workgroup

Several hydropower facility operators opposed the proposed House Bill 1130 during the 2015 legislative session and asked that it be amended to change how the license fee is calculated. Based on their testimony a budget proviso was placed in Ecology’s budget. It directed the Water Quality Program to conduct a stakeholder process in the summer of 2015, and develop recommendations to restructure water power license fees. The proviso also directs Ecology to submit the recommendations to the appropriate legislative committees by December 1, 2015.

Ecology began meeting with the hydropower fee payers in April 2015, and continues to hold facilitated monthly meetings to review options for restructuring the fee and to develop recommendations for modifying the HB1130. These stakeholder meetings are scheduled to conclude at the end of September, and recommendations are to be incorporated into the required biennial report to the Legislature on Water Power License Fees.

 

Meeting Agendas and Notes

 

Kickoff meeting

April 14, 2015 - Capital Campus John L. O'Brien Building

1st Workgroup meeting

June 17, 2015 – SeaTac Conference Center

 

2nd Workgroup meeting

July 10, 2015 - Wenatchee

 

3rd Workgroup meeting

August 12, 2015 - SeaTac Radisson Hotel

4th Workgroup meeting

September 16, 2015 - Chelan PUD Service Building, Wenatchee

5th Workgroup meeting

October 23, 2015 - Ecology HQ, Lacey

 

Resource Materials

Report to the Legislature: Water Power License Fees: Expenditures, Recommendations, and Recognition for 2014 (Ecology publication)

Focus on Integrated Water Solutions - Agency request legislation: Maintain water power license fees (Ecology publication)

 

 

 

Contact us for more information

 

Last updated November 2015