Order Issuing New License for Cornell Hydro

From:

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

 

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Comments & FilingsLaws, court cases, and filingsPublished   9/23/2021

The September 2021 license order for the Cornell University project (P-3251) includes the reservation of authority for FERC to require financial assurance measures. Commissioner Danly authored a partial concurrence and partial dissent for this license order, highlighting his concern about financial assurances and referring back to the January 2021 financial assurances NOI (see the HRC’s comments here).

 

Article 408. Reservation of Authority to Require Financial Assurance Measures. The Commission reserves the right to require future measures to ensure that the licensee maintains sufficient financial reserves to carry out the terms of the license and Commission orders pertaining thereto.

 

From Commissioner Danly’s partial concurrence and partial dissent:

“I write to express my concern about the response that will be occasioned by Article 408, which reserves the Commission’s authority to impose financial assurance mechanisms without limiting principle. I am convinced that the Commission must take a hard look at our financial assurance requirements and deliberately determine what, if any, changes or improvements should be adopted. It is imperative that licensees have the financial wherewithal to physically maintain their facilities and I have been gravely concerned about this subject for some time. But how to go about achieving that goal is a complicated question and requires a great deal of thought. It is especially difficult for the Commission to chart a clear path based on the record we have compiled so far in our Notice of Inquiry, many of the submissions to which have raised compelling complexities.

 

In my view, this reservation may have the unfortunate effect of reinforcing the uncertainty faced by licensees in light of what is nevertheless the necessary inquiry the Commission is conducting into financial assurance. Licensees do not know whether or when we will promulgate new financial assurance requirements, whether imposition of those requirements will require a hearing, what form they will take, or how much they will cost. This uncertainty may further chill investment and drive up risk premiums— limiting licensee’s access to the very financing we should seek to encourage.”

 

SUMMARY OF LICENSE REQUIREMENTS

20. This license, which authorizes 1.718 MW of renewable energy generation capacity, requires most of the proposed measures listed above, the staff-recommended modifications and additional measures described below, and the conditions required by New York DEC’s water quality certification (certification) (Appendix A). Combined, these measures will protect or enhance water quality, fisheries, terrestrial, and cultural resources at the project.

21. To ensure compliance with project operation and environmental measures, the license requires a stream flow and water level monitoring plan.

22. To prevent the introduction or spread of invasive plant species, the license requires Cornell to finalize its Invasive Plant Species Management Plan within one year of the issuance date of the license.

23. To protect northern long-eared bats and bald eagles at the project, the license requires Cornell to finalize its Northern Long-eared Bat and Bald Eagle Management Plan.

24. To protect soil resources and minimize the potential for fish and wildlife impacts due to small- and large-scale dredging at the project, the license requires a sediment management plan.

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