Most non-Federal hydroelectric projects in the United States are operated under licenses issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The Federal Power Act (FPA) gives FERC the exclusive authority to issue licenses to construct, operate, and maintain certain non-Federal hydropower projects. The relicensing process addresses not only the generation of electricity, but also the natural resources that are present and which may be affected - both positively and negatively - by a project's operation. FERC is required by federal law to consider both power and non-power issues in relicensing hydroelectric facilities.
The Traditional Relicensing Process (TLP) involves consultation with resource agencies and the public regarding studies and study results. The licensee compiles the study results in a draft license application that is then distributed for public review. The licensee receives comments and develops a final license application for filing with FERC. Once FERC has the license application, the agency reviews the application to make sure all requirements and regulations have been met and then begins the public scoping process pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The scoping process helps identify issues and reasonable alternatives as well as determines if additional studies or other information are needed.