RAPID/Best Practices/Tips for Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Developers

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Tips for Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Developers

A qualifying conduit hydropower project is not required to obtain a license or exemption from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). However, to initiate the process for a qualifying conduit hydropower facility, the developer must first file a Notice of Intent to Construct a Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility with FERC and meet the required provisions of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013.

The developer of a qualifying conduit hydropower project could meet federal regulatory requirements for the project within as little as (60) sixty days. To qualify as a qualifying conduit hydropower facility, the project must meet the following provisions:

  1. A conduit is any tunnel, canal, pipeline, aqueduct, flume, ditch, or similar manmade water conveyance that is operated for the distribution of water for agricultural, municipal, or industrial consumption, and is not primarily for the generation of electricity;
  2. The facility generates electric power using only the hydroelectric potential of a non-federally owned conduit;
  3. The facility has as installed capacity that does not exceed 5 MW; and
  4. The facility was not licensed or exempted from licensing by FERC on or before August 9, 2013.

For more information see:

FERC Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility Authorization Process:


The FERC website provides users with a number of Web-based tools designed to help developers understand the qualifying conduit hydropower facility process and to complete the process more quickly and efficiently.

FERC’s Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility Process

FERC’s Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility Process web page outlines FERC’s process for determining whether a hydropower facility meets the criteria required for a qualifying conduit.

How to File a Notice of Intent to Construct a Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility

FERC’s How to File a Notice of Intent to Construct a Qualifying Conduit Hydropower Facility web page provides a template of the required notice and sample drawings for the developer’s Notice of Intent to Construct a Qualifying Conduit Facility.


FERC’s eFiling web page links to FERC’s eRegister web page where the developer can create a FERC online account and to FERC’s Online Home Page where the developer can access online applications and submit hydropower documents electronically.


Some states have developed guidance materials and tools designed to assist users to develop small/low-impact hydropower projects, to navigate the permitting processes and to avoid unnecessary delays and costs.


State Small-Low Impact Hydropower Assistance Program

Small-low impact hydropower projects may be eligible for streamlined federal permitting assistance from the Colorado Energy Office. The Colorado Small-low Impact Hydropower Assistance Program coordinates resource agency reviews and provides a single point of contact for developers in order to help developers complete permitting requirements more quickly and efficiently. To qualify for assistance, the proposed hydropower project must utilize existing infrastructure; present no significant changes to current operation of infrastructure; create no new stream diversions; and present only minimal or easily mitigated effects on water quality, fish passage, threatened or endangered species, and cultural or recreational resources.

Small-Low Impact Assistance Program:

Colorado Small Hydropower Handbook

The Colorado Energy Office’s Small Hydropower Handbook provides a resource for developers, utilities, agricultural businesses and other stakeholders that are interested in the development of small hydropower projects in Colorado. For the purposes of this handbook, “small hydropower” is defined as development on existing infrastructure or hydropower with generating capacity of 2 MW or less. This handbook examines the various steps involved in developing a small hydropower project, including site assessment; feasibility assessment; permitting, financing and interconnection; final design and construction; and commissioning and communication.


In Vermont, new hydroelectric projects meeting certain criteria for limited resource impacts may qualify for the Vermont Small Hydropower Assistance Program, which is designed to assist developers with state and federal permitting processes and to provide an expedited review process in accordance with the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013.

Small Hydropower Assistance Program:

Vermont's Small Hydropower Assistance Website

Vermont’s Vermont Small Hydropower Assistance Program Website links users to useful resources, forms and instructions.

Vermont Hydropower Facility Licensing Factsheet

The Vermont Agency for Natural Resources’ Hydropower Facility Licensing Factsheet identifies the state and federal agencies likely to be involved in permitting a qualifying conduit hydropower facility, outlines the permitting process and answers frequently asked questions.