Some Northern Pass opponents are hoping Governor Maggie Hassan will sign Senate Bill 99, which they think may complicate approval of the controversial hydro-electric project. The bill may reach Hassan's desk this week but she says she hasn’t decided what to do.
“I haven’t reviewed the bill yet in any kind of detail so I’ll do that and then make up my mind,” she told NHPR Saturday.
The bill calls for studying how the state’s Site Evaluation Committee functions, including its “organization, structure and process to better ensure that the review of energy facility applications serves the public good and provides clarity to potential energy project developers.”
The Site Evaluation Committee is responsible for reviewing major utility projects, such as the Northern Pass. Without its approval Northern Pass could not move ahead.
The SEC's sixteen members are all from state agencies.
Some consumers have complained that while they are allowed to provide comments about projects the SEC should have some citizen members who can vote and question applicants.
One of the sponsors of the bill is Sen. Jeff Woodburn, a Democrat who represents the North Country.
“The SEC process needs reform,” Woodburn wrote in an email. He said the SEC must be reviewed to create a system “that is credible, provides legitimate local input and local benefit.”
That report is due no later than January 1, 2014.
Some Northern Pass opponents also hope the bill – if approved by Hassan – will have the effect of delaying the hydro-electric project.
While the report is due next January it could take a year longer for any changes to be adopted.