Will designation restrict hydroelectric development?

The Wild & Scenic Rivers Act expressly prohibits the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) from licensing the construction of a hydroelectric project or project works (e.g., facilities such as the powerhouse, access roads, transmission lines) under Part 1 of the Federal Power Act “on or directly affecting” a designated wild and scenic river. However, on the few rivers with a FERC-licensed hydroelectric project/project works within the river’s boundaries at the time of designation, existing operations may continue.

Relicensing of existing FERC-licensed hydroelectric projects located on, or below, above or on a stream tributary to a designated river’s boundaries, will be evaluated under the “direct and adverse” standard or the “invade or unreasonably diminish” standard, respectively.

Review of hydroelectric and federally water resources projects under Section 7 of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act is complex. Please refer to Wild & Scenic Rivers Act: Section 7 (2004), a technical report of the Interagency Wild and Scenic Rivers Coordinating Council for a detailed discussion.

Interagency Wild & Scenic Rivers Council