The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on April 18 approved a rule establishing voluntary ­processes for expedited licensing of hydroelectric facilities at ­nonpowered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects.

The rule will implement 2018 legislation directing FERC to establish processes aimed at a licensing decision within two years for eligible projects (WPW No. 13 [10]).

To qualify for the expedited process, proposed hydro-generation plants at nonpowered dams will have to use flows or diversions without resulting in “­material change to the storage, release or flow operations” at affected dams, according to the rule.

Closed-loop pumped storage projects can be licensed under the process if operations result in “little to no change to existing surface and groundwater flows and uses and is unlikely to adversely affect” species on ­federal threatened or endangered species lists.

The rule will go into effect July 23, 90 days after it was published in the Federal Register.