Hydropower Permitting

PEC is working to make permitting of low-impact hydro more efficient, while maintaining important ecosystem and community protections.

Based on PEC’s considerable research into the barriers to increased use of low impact hydropower in PA, feedback received at the 2011 PA Hydropower Summit, and one-on-one interviews with project developers and regulatory agencies, we have found that a primary barrier to greater development is the time and expense associated with state and federal permitting. Permitting for hydropower projects is very complex, involving multiple state and federal agencies.

This complexity often requires the services of an attorney or consultant. However, the cost associated with permitting may prove to be an insurmountable challenge to many low-impact projects because the small power generation will not produce enough revenue to recoup the costs.

We believe the permitting process can be adjusted to be more efficient and less costly, for both applicants and resource agencies, while maintaining stringent environmental protections. In February 2015, we released the Hydroelectric Permitting Manual for Pennsylvania. This document was produced with the support of the Metropolitan Edison/Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund.

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