Federal, state governments
streamline hydropower permitting

June 6, 2014

New policies and incentives make taking a look at hydroelectric projects worthwhile, especially for the agricultural sector.

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has streamlined the conduit exemption permitting process to fewer than 60 days.

  • The Colorado Legislature passed HB 14-030 to mirror the federal permitting process, so that projects obtain both federal and state permitting in under 60 days.

  • The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has indicated it will fund agriculture-based hydro projects, covering up to 65 to 75% of project costs up to $300,000.

The hydropower industry is also seeing technological innovation and lower costs in low-head ditch drop turbines and pressurized pipe turbines.

These factors combine to make hydropower projects easier, quicker and produce a return on investment within acceptable periods of time.  

NRCS is the place to start with a farm or ranch-based hydropower project. NRCS provides the following services for hydro:

  • Free site assessment
  • Feasibility study drafting
  • Application of FERC notice of intent
  • Penstock design (NRCS will not specify turbine hardware or tailrace design)
  • Construction scope
  • Plan view drawings & location map

Contact info

U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
EQIP: Environmental Quality Incentives Program for on-farm energy
Scott Knutson
(970) 945-5494 x103

Colorado Dept of Agriculture
Advancing Colorado’s RE & EE
Sam Anderson
(303) 869-9044

U.S. Department of Agriculture
REAP: Rural Energy for America Program
Pattie Snidow
(970) 874-5735 x132

Contact an Energy Coach

Maisa Metcalf (se habla español)
(970) 704-9200 ext. 1101

Brandon Jones
(970) 704-9200 ext. 1103