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Frequently Asked Questions

What is relicensing?
Relicensing a hydropower project is a highly structured, transparent, federally-regulated process that takes a minimum of five years. Licensed projects must comply with many regulations including: the Federal Power Act (FPA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The relicensing process requires a thorough evaluation of all aspects of the Hydropower Project and its operation including economic, cultural, and environmental impacts. The FERC is charged with evaluating input from all stakeholders and seeking a balance between the power and non-power aspects of each licensed project. Concerns and potential impacts related to the continued operation of the Loup River Hydroelectric Project will be investigated and addressed during the relicensing process. (Back to top)

What is a hydropower license?
The Federal Power Act (FPA) of 1920 provides the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) exclusive authority to license (or exempt) all non-federal hydropower projects that are located on navigable waters of the U.S. or connected to the interstate power grid. A FERC license allows a hydropower project to operate for a period of 30 to 50 years. (Back to top)

Who regulates hydroelectric projects?
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is responsible for regulating non-federal hydroelectric projects -- including licensing, relicensing, and on-going compliance.  Federal regulations mandate a precise licensing procedure that:

  • Provides a defined, efficient, and timely license process.
  • Endeavors to balance project operations with appropriate resource protection. (Back to top)

How are regulatory agencies involved?
Many federal and state agencies have jurisdiction over issues that will be addressed as part of the relicensing process. Identifying the issues, deciding how to study and evaluate them, and reaching agreement on how to address them involves building consensus among many parties.

Federal, state, and local agencies will be involved throughout the relicensing process. An agency orientation meeting was conducted on May 7, 2008, in Columbus, Nebraska. Ten agencies attended the meeting to discuss project operations and the FERC relicensing process. On-going coordination with interested agencies will continue throughout the process. (Back to top)

What is the project?
The Loup River Hydroelectric Project uses the power of flowing water to generate electricity.  The Project begins at the Headworks Diversion Structure where water is diverted from the Loup River into the Loup Power Canal.  Water then flows to the Monroe Powerhouse.  The Monroe Powerhouse is a run-of-river plant, generating power at the rate the water arrives without any water storage.  From there, water flows into Lake Babcock and Lake North.  Water is stored in the lakes for daily power production at the Columbus Powerhouse.  Storage allows for hydrocycling or peaking, so that the Columbus Powerhouse can generate energy to meet demand.  After passing through the Columbus Powerhouse, the water then flows through the Tailrace Canal and ultimately to the Platte River. (Back to top)

What is hydroelectric power?
Hydroelectric power, or hydropower, refers to the process, structures, equipment, and systems involved in converting the pressure energy and kinetic energy of flowing water into more easily used electrical energy.  Originating with simple water wheels in ancient times, hydromechanical technology developed during the industrial revolution.  With the advent of the electrical age, hydroelectric technology became a leading force in developing the standard of living we enjoy today. (Back to top)

Does the District have a water right?
Since 1932, the District has held water rights for 3,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) of Loup River water. 3,500 cfs is the maximum capacity of the canal system, but the average canal flow is considerably less. In addition to supporting power generation, the District canal system delivers water to several dozen irrigation interests along the canal. (Back to top)

What does 'run-of-river' operation mean?
Run-of-river operation means that water is utilized for electrical generation at a powerhouse at the same rate as it arrives.  In other words, there is no water storage involved at the site.  Loup Power District's Monroe Powerhouse is operated in a run-of-river manner. (Back to top)

What does 'hydrocycling' or 'peaking' operation mean?
Hydrocycling or peaking operation means that water may be accumulated in a reservoir and then released later for utilization at a powerhouse when the electricity is needed most.  This flexibility allows a utility to vary its generation in accordance with the demand for electricity.  Hydrocycling varies the natural flow rate of water in a canal or river.  Loup Power District's Columbus Powerhouse is operated in a hydrocycling manner using water accumulated in Lake Babcock and Lake North. (Back to top)

Is hydropower green?
In general it is.  Hydropower is a renewable and non-polluting source of electrical energy.  However, all energy sources come with some impacts and trade-offs.  The benefits and impacts of individual hydropower developments vary widely. Therefore their respective shades of "green" vary widely as well. (Back to top)

Where does the generated power go?
All electric power generated by Loup Power District is purchased by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD). The purchased power is a portion of the power supply from which NPPD services its electric customers. Generation at the Columbus Powerhouse is managed to respond to electrical demand in the NPPD system. Water flow from the reservoirs into Columbus Powerhouse is actively regulated throughout the day. This arrangement, known as hydrocycling, allows the District to provide a specified level of power production within minutes after it is requested by NPPD. (Back to top)

Why are we relicensing the District's hydro project?
The existing federal license for the Loup River Hydroelectric Project will expire in April 2014. A new license must be obtained from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) so Loup Power District can continue to operate the Project to generate electricity. The District has initiated the multi-year process of applying for a new FERC license. This will be the third FERC license proceeding for the District. The initial 50-year license was issued in 1934 prior to construction of the hydropower project.  In 1984, the District received a new license to operate the project for an additional 30 years.  The District is seeking a new license to operate for 30 more years. (Back to top)

Will relicensing affect my electric rates?
Working through the periodic relicensing process every 30, 40, or 50 years is a normal cost of doing business in the hydropower industry.  The degree to which future Nebraska electric rates could be impacted will depend entirely on the specific terms and conditions that are attached to the new project license when it is issued.  Reducing the water flow available for hydropower generation or restricting established project operating procedures will negatively impact project economics. (Back to top)

Does relicensing allow for changes to the existing Loup Power District hydropower facilities or operations?
Relicensing provides an infrequent opportunity for all parties to evaluate how effectively a project provides renewable energy benefits as well as how compatible it is with its surrounding environment.  Changes may be made to both the project and its operation when seeking to balance the power and non-power aspects of a project. (Back to top)

How long does relicensing take?
Officially, relicensing takes between five and five and one half years after the licensee submits a Notice of Intent to file for a new license.  Allowing for necessary planning, coordination, and preliminary consultation, the total duration of the licensee’s effort actually requires seven to nine years. (Back to top)

Why does relicensing take so long?
The relicensing process requires a thorough evaluation of all aspects of the hydropower facilities and its operation including economic, cultural, and environmental impacts. The FERC is charged with evaluating input from all stakeholders and seeking a balance between the power and non-power aspects of each licensed project. All legitimate concerns and potential impacts related to the continued operation of the Loup Power District Project will be investigated.  The multi-year process provides for extensive consultation with all interested agencies and stakeholders. A full two years are allocated to design, perform, and report on appropriate study efforts.  After the license application is submitted to the FERC, an additional year is allocated for an environmental assessment (EA) or, if necessary, an environmental impact statement (EIS) to be prepared and evaluated.  After all inputs are in hand, the FERC requires time to develop the terms and conditions for the new license document. (Back to top)

When will the Loup Power District receive a new license?
The current license for the District’s hydro project is due to expire in April 2014. After completing all required consultation and studies, the District must file its formal application for a new license two full years before the current license expires. Typically, the FERC issues new licenses just prior to the expiration of the current license.  In some cases an annual license is issued to allow continuing project operation until issues are resolved and the new license can be issued. (Back to top)

Are public meetings planned?
Yes, a series of public meetings will be held throughout the relicensing process. The first public open houses were held on June 10 and 11, 2008, in Columbus and Genoa, Nebraska respectively.  Information from past meetings.

Additional public meetings will be held as Loup Power District moves forward in the relicensing process to update the public on the process, answer questions, and provide opportunities to submit comments. (Back to top)

How do I get involved?
There are several ways individuals and organizations can get involved in the Loup River Hydroelectric Project Relicensing effort.  To simply stay informed about relicensing progress, you can visit the Project website often at, as it will be updated with information about the process as it progresses.

You may elect to participate in the relicensing process as an Interested Party or a Relicensing Participant. Interested Parties will be added to the mailing list to receive meeting notices, newsletters, and invitations to public meetings and special presentations. Relicensing Participants will play a more active role - in addition to receiving mailing list materials and invitations to public meetings and presentations. Relicensing Participants take part in Agency discussions or issue-specific Workgroups. Any member of the public may participate in the relicensing process as an Interested Party or a Relicensing Participant. To be added to the Interested Parties mailing list, please provide your contact information at a public meeting, online at, or on the Project hotline: 866-869-2087. If you wish to participate as a Relicensing Participant, please Contact Us and note the specific issue you are interested in. (Back to top)

Why should I get involved?
Depending on its terms and conditions, a new federal license for the Loup River Hydroelectric Project may impact numerous individuals and groups including Loup Power District ratepayers, local area residents and businesses, the tourism and recreation industries, resource management agencies, environmental interests, hikers and bikers, irrigators, preservation interests, and the area economy.  Your input will help identify issues specific to you and others impacted by the Project.

If you are a customer/owner of Loup Power District, there are multiple reasons for you to get involved in the relicensing process.

  • You may be interested in a specific issue or resource area (such as fisheries, water quality, or land use) and would like to provide input by attending meetings, or by written comment.
  • Environmental studies, enhancement measures, and possible changes to existing hydro project operations involve potential tradeoffs and costs that could impact electric rates for Loup Power District. (Back to top)

How do I provide comments?
If you have questions about the relicensing process or want to provide comments on some aspect of the Loup River Hydroelectric Project, call the Project hotline (866-869-2087) or go directly to our Contact Us page. Comments provided by the public help determine the scope of future studies. Your comments will go directly to the Relicensing Team. Your input is important and appreciated! (Back to top)

Is this a part of the 75th Anniversary Celebration?
It is not.  It just so happens that the 75th Anniversary of our facilities coincides with the beginning of the relicensing process. (Back to top)

Why are the District's recreation facilities free?
The Board of Directors has adopted a policy that the District could best serve the community by providing recreation benefits at no charge. (Back to top)


    Last updated July 14, 2008 - Copyright