July 16, 2002 — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved the New York Power Authority’s proposal to use an alternative licensing procedure (ALP) to seek a new federal license to continue to operate the Niagara Power Project on the Niagara River in the Town of Lewiston.
In a letter issued Monday, July 15, FERC said, “in light of the stakeholders support shown for using the ALP … (it) would be appropriate in this case because it would foster improved communications, participation and cooperation among the stakeholders, and ultimately expedite and reduce the cost of the relicensing process.”
“We’re delighted by this decision,” said Eugene W. Zeltmann, president and chief executive officer of the Power Authority. “This will encourage all those who will be affected by our relicensing effort to participate fully in the entire process and to communicate with us, the regulators and other stakeholders.”
Even before the Power Authority requested the use of the alternative licensing process, it met with potential stakeholders to seek input and communication, demonstrating to FERC that it had made an effort to contact federal and state resources agencies, the Tuscarora Nation, non-governmental organizations, and others potentially affected by the project.
FERC’s letter noted that they had received a number of comment letters in response to the notice, with most supporting NYPA’s proposal to use the ALP at the Robert Moses-Niagara Project. The Power Authority submitted 49 letters with its application.
The Power Authority’s Alternative Licensing Proposal combines into a single process FERC’s prefiling consultation process, the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act, and any administrative processes associated with the Clean Water Act or other statutes. The ALP will ensure greater participation by, and improve communication among, NYPA, FERC staff, and the Stakeholders with regard to the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project.
NYPA also developed a communications protocol which defines how NYPA, the Stakeholders, and FERC will communicate with each other to ensure that all parties have access to appropriate relicensing information.
The ALP also lays out a timeline for relicensing the Niagara Power Project that includes issuance of the First Stage Consultation Report; public scoping of an Applicant Prepared Environmental Assessment (APEA); settlement discussions with Stakeholders; and preparation and filing of the final license application and applicant prepared environmental assessment.
The Power Authority expects this process to begin by the end of this year.