The Electric Consumers Protection Act (ECPA) of 1986 amended the Federal Power Act (FPA) of 1920 by increasing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) regulatory and enforcement powers. Under the ECPA, Congress requires that the FERC give equal consideration to non-power generating values such as the environment, recreation, fish, and wildlife, as are given to power and development objectives when making hydroelectric project licensing decisions.
The implementation of the new compliance provisions, and new studies of fish, wildlife, recreation, aesthetics, land use, water use, and water quality, has increased the licensing fees significantly. Federal and state fish and wildlife agencies advise the FERC on its new mandate to mitigate adverse affects from existing licenses. Congress also requires the Commission to conduct studies to determine whether the benefits relating to cogeneration and small power production plants apply to small power production facilities using new dams or water diversion systems.