Washington Law Review


Beth C. Bryant


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) asserted in a 1994 Policy Statement that it has the authority under the Federal Power Act to deny a new license for a hydroelectric dam or impose environmental conditions on a new license that may render a project unprofitable, when doing so is in the public interest. In addition, FERC stated that it would impose decommissioning costs on the dam owner. The hydroelectric industry claims that FERC lacks the authority to take these actions, and that if maintaining a dam is no longer in the public interest, either the federal government or another party must pay the current owner to take over the project. To date, FERC has only invoked the Policy Statement twice. The hydroelectric industry is opposed to both FERC orders, but the FERC Policy Statement remains untested in court. This Comment analyzes the Federal Power Act in light of FERC's claimed authority under the Policy Statement and argues that FERC possesses the authority to deny a license or to impose uneconomic conditions in fulfilling its statutory duty to protect the public interest.

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