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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

California Hydropower Facilility Licensing, Certification, Safety, & Regulation(7-CA)

In California, a hydropower developer may need to obtain a dam safety Certification of Approval from the California Division of Safety of Dams for projects that will include a dam or reservoir. The developer may also need to obtain a Renewable Portfolio Standard Certification from the California Energy Commission confirming that the hydropower project constitutes an eligible resource of renewable energy.

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Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

California Federal

Renewable Portfolio Standard Process (RPS): California requires all electric utilities procure 50% of their retail sales from eligible renewable energy resources by 2030. The California Energy Commission is also required to certify certain electric generation facilities as eligible renewable resources for RPS purposes. [1][2][3]
RPS Eligible: California defines renewable resources to include "small hydroelectric generation of 30 megawatts or less, ...ocean wave,... or tidal current, and any additions or enhancements to the facility using that technology." "A small hydroelectric generation facility is not an eligible renewable electrical generation facility if it will cause an adverse impact on instream beneficial uses or cause a change in the volume or timing of streamflow."
RPS Regulatory Agency: Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System; California Energy Commission [4][5]

Contact Information

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Regional Office Hydropower Contacts

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List of Reference Sources

  1. Cal. Pub. Res. Code §§ 25740-25751 Cal. Pub. Util. Code §§ 399.11-399.16 Renewables Portfolio Standard Eligibility Guidebook, at p.1 Renewables Portfolio Standard Eligibility Guidebook, at p.14 Renewables Portfolio Standard Eligibility Guidebook, at p.5

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