Integrated Licensing Process (ILP)
The ILP was approved through FERC regulations issued July 23, 2003 (18 CFR Part 5). The process formally begins when an applicant simultaneously files with FERC a Notice of Intent (NOI) to relicense the project and a Pre-Application Document (PAD). The NOI is a formal announcement to FERC of an applicant’s intent to apply for a new license. The PAD is a detailed collection of information about the project.
The purpose of the PAD is to provide detailed information about a project at the beginning of the relicensing process to help focus participants on key issues. The NOI and PAD must be filed at least five years but not more than five and one-half years before the expiration of the existing license. For Douglas PUD, this window of time is December 2006 through May 2007. Douglas PUD submitted the NOI and PAD to FERC on December 1, 2006. The ILP requirements are designed to allow the PAD to evolve into an Exhibit E for the final license application.
Douglas PUD’s PAD included descriptions of Wells Project facilities, operations, license requirements, environmental resources and impacts, project lands, water resources, fish and aquatic resources, terrestrial and wildlife resources, rare, threatened and endangered species, recreation and land use, cultural resources and socioeconomic resources. It also included a preliminary list of proposed studies to be conducted during the mandatory two year study period (January 2008 to December 2009). In the ILP, a rigorous timeline is initiated once the NOI and PAD are filed. Within 120 days of filing the NOI and PAD, comments pertaining to the PAD and study requests are due from federal and state resource agencies, local governments, Indian tribes, members of the public and other interested parties.
The ILP requires the applicant to propose a detailed study plan document within 165 days of filing the NOI and PAD. The applicant is required to include specific information about each study and detail the timelines and reporting procedures within its proposed study plan document. Meetings to discuss the proposed study plan document must take place within 30 days after the applicant’s filing. The interested agencies, tribes, or members of the public have 90 days from the applicant’s filing to submit comments to FERC on the proposed study plan document. The ILP regulations encourage the applicant and interested agencies, tribes or members of the public to try to informally resolve any disputes during this 90-day comment period.
After the close of the 90-day comment period, the applicant has 30 days to file a revised study plan document with FERC aimed at addressing any comments made and resolving differences over study requests. Once the revised study plan document is submitted, interested agencies, tribes or members of the public have 15 days to file comments on the plan. A study plan determination describing any modifications will be issued by FERC within 30 days from the filing of the revised study plan document. According to the regulations, if no study dispute is filed within 20 days of the study plan determination, then the study plan document is approved and the applicant is allowed to proceed with the identified studies.
The ILP regulations provide for a formal dispute resolution process for any federal or state agency, or tribe, with mandatory conditioning authority under sections 4(e) and 18 of the Federal Power Act or under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. This process allows for any such entity to file a notice of study dispute within 20 days of FERC’s notice of study plan determination. If this occurs, FERC will assemble a dispute resolution panel to review the notice of study dispute. According to the regulations, this panel shall deliver its recommendations to FERC within 50 days of the notice of study dispute. Within 70 days from the notice of study dispute, FERC shall issue a written determination pertaining to the applicant’s study plan document. After the study plan document has been finalized, Douglas PUD will proceed with its studies and file a report to FERC within one year describing the activities completed and information collected. Modifications may be made to the studies at that time, and a second year of studies may be necessary.
Toward the end of the study period and no later than 150 days prior to the deadline for filing its final license application, the ILP requires the applicant to file a Preliminary Licensing Proposal (PLP). This document is intended to describe the existing and proposed project facilities, existing and proposed project operation and maintenance plan, measures for protection, mitigation and enhancement for resource areas affected by the proposal and a draft environmental assessment by resource area including information obtained from completion of the study plan document. In lieu of the PLP, the applicant can file a Draft License Application (DLA). Within 90 days of the filing of either the PLP or DLA, participants or FERC staff may file comments on the PLP or DLA. The culmination of this process will lead to Douglas PUD filing its license application with the FERC. Douglas PUD will also make the license application available to any other interested parties. Subsequent to the filing of the license application, FERC is expected to issue a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and ultimately a new license for the Wells Project.
Additional resources are referenced below to assist interested parties in understanding FERC’s ILP and in how these regulations will be implemented during the process of relicensing the Wells Project.
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