Balancing Hydropower and Environmental Values: The Resource Management Implications of the US Electric Consumers Protection Act and the AWARE(TM) Software
This paper reviews the AWARE(TM) software distributed by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The program is designed to facilitate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license renewal process for US hydropower installations. The discussion reviews the regulatory, legal, and social contexts that give rise to the creation and distribution of AWARE(TM). The principal legal impetus for AWARE(TM) is the Electric Consumer Protection Act (ECPA) of 1986 that directs FERC to give equal consideration to power and non-power resources during relicensing. The software is reviewed in this paper from several perspectives including those of natural resource economics, systems modeling, and the social context within which FERC licensing decisions are made. We examine both the software and its underlying methodology and find significant problems with each. Because of its flaws, AWARE(TM) does little to further ECPA's equal consideration requirement. We find that the conservation and restoration impact of ECPA for US fisheries could be seriously hampered by the widespread use of AWARE(TM).
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