North Country
4:50 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Hassan Signs Bill To Study Site Evaluation Committee

Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed Senate Bill 99, which calls for a study of the state’s important Site Evaluation Committee’s “organization, structure and process.”

The committee  reviews major utility projects, which would include Northern Pass Transmission. Without its approval the project to bring hydro-electric power from Canada could not move ahead.

In a statement Hassan said the bill “requires a review of the state’s energy siting law and process, including consideration of the role of the public and municipalities in the siting process, the need for funding and staffing of the Site Evaluation Committee, and the use of transportation rights of way for energy infrastructure. It also requires new rules for the Site Evaluation Committee which can help provide clarity about siting requirements.”

The committee’s sixteen members are all from state agencies. Over the years some consumers have complained that while they are allowed to provide comments about projects before the SEC the commission should have some citizen members who can vote and question applicants. Instead consumers have been represented by a non-voting lawyer from the Attorney General’s office.

Some Northern Pass opponents hoped Hassan would sign the legislation figuring a reworked SEC could give them a better chance when it comes to opposing the project and that the time needed to finish the study might also delay the project.

That report is due no later than January 1, 2014 but it could take a year longer for any changes to be adopted.