Hydropower Program

Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP)

General Information

A Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) lease of power privilege (LOPP) is a contractual right given to a non-federal entity to use a Reclamation asset (e.g. dam or conduit) for electric power generation consistent with Reclamation project purposes. A LOPP project must not impair the efficiency of Reclamation generated power or water deliveries, jeopardize public safety, or negatively affect any other Reclamation project purpose.

Non-Federal Hydroelectric Power Development

Both Reclamation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are authorized to permit the use of Reclamation assets to non-federal entities for the purposes of hydropower development – Reclamation via a LOPP and FERC via a License. In the interest of mutual cooperation for the timely development of non-federal hydropower, the two agencies have collaborated to define jurisdictional boundaries and responsibilities. The outcomes of this collaboration are memorialized in two Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreements. Per the MoU documents, each Reclamation asset is subject to only one permitting process; non-federal entities seeking to utilize a Reclamation asset for the purposes of hydropower development would be required to obtain either a Reclamation LOPP or FERC License – but not both.

Date Memorandum of Understanding Purpose
1981 MoU between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of the Department of Energy and the Water and Power Resources Service (Reclamation) of the Department of the Interior MoU establishes a process to promote the non-Federal development of hydroelectric energy at existing Water and Power (Reclamation) facilities.
1992 MoU between the Federal Regulatory Commission and the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation MoU establishes procedural steps and a set of rebuttable presumptions to guide the analysis of the agencies' respective jurisdiction over hydro development at Reclamation sites.
 

The general premise of the MoU agreements is that - unless otherwise specified in law - Reclamation assets authorized for federal hydropower development are within the exclusive jurisdiction of Reclamation – and require a LOPP for non-federal development. All other Reclamation assets (i.e. assets not authorized for federal hydropower development) are within the exclusive jurisdiction of FERC – and require a FERC License for non-federal development. Non-federal hydropower projects developed on Reclamation projects typically utilize one of two Reclamation asset types – (1) conduits or (2) dams (and associated reservoirs).

  1. Pursuant to the Reclamation Project Act of 1939 (Public Law 76-260), as amended by the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2013 (Public Law 113-24), all Reclamation conduits are within the exclusive jurisdiction of Reclamation. Therefore, all non-federal hydropower development utilizing a Reclamation conduit would proceed through a LOPP.
  2. Per the MoU, the utilization of Reclamation dams for non-federal hydropower development requires either a LOPP or FERC License – dependent upon the authorized purpose of the utilized dam. As with all Reclamation assets, permitting authority is mutually exclusive; each Reclamation dam is either within Reclamation or FERC jurisdiction. Accordingly, development would proceed through either a LOPP or FERC License - but not both.

Note that comprehensive, non-federal projects utilizing multiple assets may require both a LOPP and FERC License in the circumstance that one asset is within Reclamation’s jurisdiction and a second asset is within FERC’s jurisdiction. This circumstance may apply to non-federal pumped storage projects utilizing a Reclamation dam authorized for federal hydropower development and any second dam (Reclamation-owned or otherwise) within FERC’s jurisdiction.

Finally - Section 3087 of the Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (Public Law 113-291) authorizes the issuance of LOPPs on all water resource assets constructed pursuant to the Water Conservation and Utilization Act (WCUA) (Public Law 76-398), therefore, all non-federal hydropower utilizing WCUA assets would proceed exclusively through a LOPP.

Initiating Non-Federal Development

To initiate non-federal hydropower development on a Reclamation conduit or WCUA asset, developers are instructed to submit a Formal Request to the appropriate Reclamation Regional Director. Once the Formal Request is received, the developer will be notified and the project will proceed through the LOPP process. To initiate non-federal hydropower development on a Reclamation dam, developers are instructed to submit either a Formal Request to the appropriate Reclamation Regional Director or a Notice of Intent to FERC. Developers are free to choose which agency to contact. Once the Formal Request or Notice of Intent is received, the two agencies will convene to determine the appropriate permitting authority. Once the appropriate permitting authority is determined, the developer will be notified and the project will proceed through the appropriate permitting process(es).

Reclamation Regional Director contact information is available here.
Information regarding the FERC Notice of Intent submission process is available here.
Information regarding the FERC License process is available here.

The Reclamation regional contacts provided below are able to assist with questions related to Reclamation facilities and projects. Note that a Formal Request example document is provided in the LOPP Flowcharts, Example and Guidance Documents section.

Reclamation Regional Contacts

Reclamation Region Representative Contact Information
Great Plains Gary Grassel

Email: ggrassel@usbr.gov
Phone: 406-247-7649

Upper Colorado Norm Wolf

Email: nwolf@usbr.gov
Phone: 801-524-3896

Lower Colorado James Stauffer

Email: jstauffer@usbr.gov
Phone: 702-293-8205

Mid-Pacific Paul Landry

Email: plandry@usbr.gov
Phone: 916-979-0255

Pacific Northwest Robert Ross

Email: rross@usbr.gov
Phone: 208-378-5332

 

Regional maps and office information is available here.

LOPP Process, Responsibilities, Timelines, and Charges Directive and Standard

The LOPP Processes, Responsibilities, Timelines, and Charges Directive and Standard (D&S) establishes the process requirements and charges associated with the non-federal development of hydropower at Reclamation facilities and WCUA projects authorized through a LOPP. The LOPP Processes, Timelines, and Charges Directive and Standard - and appendixes - are available below.

The initial D&S was published in September 2012 and revised in February 2014 to reflect Public Law 113-24 process requirements. The February 2014 revision was released as a Temporary Reclamation Manual Release with a concurrent public comment period. The D&S was updated in September 2014, given comments received. The D&S was revised again in December 2016 to clarify – but not modify - LOPP development timeframes, cyber security requirements, and annual charge methodology to ensure consistent LOPP program administration and external communications.

 
FAC 04-08 Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) Processes, Responsibilities, Timelines, and Charges
Appendix A Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation
Appendix B Lease of Power Privilege Study Considerations
Appendix C Example of a Categorical Exclusion Checklist
Appendix D Standard Lease of Power Privilege Rate Methodology
 

General questions related to general LOPP policy and the D&S may be directed to:

Reclamation Office Representative Contact Information
Denver Power Resources Office Michael Pulskamp Email: mpulskamp@usbr.gov
Phone: 303-445-2931
Denver Power Resources Office Clark Bishop

Email: cbishop@usbr.gov
Phone: 303-445-2908

 

LOPP Flowcharts, Example and Guidance Documents

To guide developers through the LOPP process on Reclamation facilities - from the Formal Request for non-federal hydropower development through project construction - LOPP flowcharts are available below. Each flowchart reflects the LOPP process as outlined in the Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) Processes, Timelines, and Charges D&S. Each flowchart references supplemental example and guidance documents that may be accessed below:

Document Type Title
LOPP Flowchart Dam - Request through Award of Preliminary Lease
Reserved Conduit - Request through Award of Preliminary Lease
Transferred Conduit - Request through Award of Preliminary Lease
Award of Preliminary Lease through Award of Lease of Power Privilege
Award of Lease of Power Privilege Contract through End of Construction
Example Document Formal Request for Development
Federal Register Notice
Acceptance Letter
Guidance Document Proposal Checklist
 

Current LOPP Development Catalog

A catalog of all online LOPP projects is available here: LOPP Development Spreadsheet.

A catalog of all Federal and non-federal renewable energy projects currently online or in development on Reclamation land, facilities, and water bodies - including LOPP projects, is available in the Bureau of Reclamation Renewable Energy Update on the Reclamation Hydropower Program homepage.

Hydropower Resource Assessments

Reclamation is committed to facilitating the development of non-federal hydropower on Reclamation projects - via the LOPP or FERC permitting process. Acting on this commitment, Reclamation has undertaken a number of activities including the completion of two resource assessments, identifying technical hydropower potential at existing Reclamation facilities. The two assessments - as well as other developer resources - are available on the Hydropower Program Reports and Data page and linked below:

Guiding Legislation

The basic policies governing Reclamation's right to contract a LOPP are set forth in a number of laws. These laws are shown below. Note that project and/or facility - specific legislation may apply. A catalog of all Reclamation projects and facilities, including specific authorizing legislation, is available here.

Date Act Purpose
1902 Reclamation Act Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to develop irrigation and hydropower projects in the 17 Western States.
1906 Town Sites and Power Development Act Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to lease surplus power or power privileges.
1939 Reclamation Project Act Act extends the contract term to 40 years for sale of power or lease of power privileges, giving preference to public entities.
1939 Water Conservation and Utilization Act Authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to develop water conservation and utilization projects in the Great Plains and arid and semiarid areas of the United States.
2013 Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act An act to authorize all Bureau of Reclamation conduit facilities for hydropower development under Federal Reclamation law, and for other purposes.
2014 Carl Levin and Howard P. "Buck" McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 Section 3087 of Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to lease power privileges at projects constructed pursuant to the Water Conservation and Utilization Act.
 

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Last Updated: 1/4/18