The state board tasked with reviewing and approving large energy projects has accepted the application to build the Northern Pass Transmission line.
"I've looked at the application. I note that all the state agencies with permitting authority say the application is complete," Commissioner Kathryn Bailey told a packed hearing room at the Site Evaluation Committee, "I have a ton of questions about the application, but I'll start the discussion by saying I think that what they're required to provide in order for us to proceed is complete."
Even before review of the application for the 192-mile transmission line began, there had been numerous challenges from opponents, claiming the application didn't include enough information. Three state agencies had raised questions, including the Department of Environmental Services and the Division of Historical Resources, but upon receiving more information from Eversource Energy both agencies said they had enough information to proceed.
The SEC voted unanimously to accept the application as complete, which will kick off the SEC's year-long in depth review. The developer was pleased with the decision.
"We're certainly confident that the project, like it met the threshold for completeness will also meet the threshold for that certificate that we need to build the project," said Northern Pass spokeswoman Lauren Collins.
But for Northern Pass opponents who crowded into the hearing, the decision shook their confidence in the SEC.
"I don't feel good about the committee at all. I really don't feel good about any of them," said George Wright of Campton.
Within 45 days Northern Pass needs to carry out another round of public information sessions. Meanwhile, in the actual proceeding itself, this decision kicks off months of fact-finding, submission of testimonies, and technical sessions where questions can be asked of expert witnesses.