Durham State Rep Seeks More Local Control for Towns in the Path of Energy Projects

Jan 11, 2017

A proposed Eversource transmission line project would pass through Durham and under Little Bay.
Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

A bill that would require towns to sign off on new electric transmission lines is before lawmakers in Concord.

The bill would require power companies to win approval from a town’s governing body or via referendum before building high voltage transmission lines through a community.

Currently, approval for such projects comes from the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.

The bill is a response to an Eversource proposal to build a new transmission line through Durham and other Seacoast towns, including a portion buried under Great Bay.

Democratic state representative Wayne Burton represents Durham and is the bill’s lead sponsor.

“This legislation is not designed to stop the process of keeping the electricity on," said Burton. "It’s meant to balance the playing field between small towns whose resources are under siege and large corporations with unlimited resources.”

In recent years, opponents of energy projects in New Hampshire like Northern Pass have complained about a lack of local control over siting.