While traditional hydropower is a well-established industry, advanced water power technologies that produce electricity from moving water without the use of a dam are now emerging in the renewable energy sector. These technologies, known as hydrokinetics, generate electricity from the motion of waves, the free flow of tides, ocean currents, or inland waterways. As part of its broad effort to advance water power technologies, the US Department of Energy (DOE) is funding various projects designed to address key issues associated with hydrokinetic technologies that harness renewable energy from the nation’s oceans and rivers.
Central to this effort is the evaluation of permitting and licensing processes used in siting hydrokinetic projects. This handbook is an informational tool intended to help stakeholders easily find and understand federal and state authorization processes. It outlines current federal and state regulatory requirements, provides clear, concise descriptions of the authorization processes, and identifies the agencies involved in these processes. This handbook was originally prepared by Pacific Energy Ventures, LLC (PEV) and published in 2009 as Siting Methodologies for Hydrokinetics: Navigating the Regulatory Framework. In the three years following its official publication, PEV updated versions of this handbook in an online wiki format. In 2020, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory updated the publication to the copy presented here, to reflect significant changes in the regulatory environment and refresh the publication style.
Various state and federal agency officials involved in the regulatory processes reviewed draft versions of the 2009 handbook and provided feedback on its accuracy, completeness and clarity. Reviewers were also asked to comment on how the regulations apply specifically to hydrokinetics and how the various authorizations connect to and integrate with each other. Staff at the relevant agencies were also offered the opportunity to review this updated version. The feedback and recommendations provided by those who reviewed this document are greatly appreciated,and the content has been revised to reflect the reviewers’ input as accurately as possible.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this document, readers should be aware that changes in statutes, rules, or regulations may have taken effect after publication of this handbook. Readers should also keep in mind that this handbook provides a high-level summary of federal and state authorizations likely to be applicable to hydrokinetic projects, and individuals will need to determine the specific regulatory requirements relevant to a particular project. Because each situation will vary, not all requirements in this handbook will apply to every project, and other requirements not addressed in this handbook may also be applicable.