Site Evaluation Committee

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

State regulators voted unanimously Thursday not to give Eversource a new hearing for its Northern Pass power line proposal.

That means the case, which has stretched for nearly a decade, will likely go before the New Hampshire Supreme Court. 

Consumer Energy / Flicker CC

The New Hampshire Supreme Court says electric utilities like Eversource should be allowed to invest in natural gas pipelines.

Tuesday’s ruling reverses a 2016 order by the state Public Utilities Commission.

Chris Jensen / NHPR

Opponents of the Northern Pass power project are pushing back on developer Eversource’s request for a new hearing before state regulators.

The utility has argued the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee didn’t give the embattled power line proposal its due consideration before denying it a building permit earlier this year.

They want the SEC to set a new hearing and consider more specific conditions that could green-light the project.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Supporters of Eversource’s Northern Pass transmission line want to remove two evaluators from the appeal process for the project’s state permit.

A group of business and union stakeholders made the request to the state Site Evaluation Committee this week.

The business group wants Public Utilities Commission member Kathryn Bailey and public representative Patricia Weathersby to recuse themselves from future Northern Pass proceedings at the SEC.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire regulators on Monday put off a final decision on Eversource’s appeal for its Northern Pass permit.

The state Site Evaluation Committee, or SEC, voted to wait on next steps until the end of March, when they expect to put their earlier denial of the utility's proposed transmission line in writing.

That denial came in early February. Soon after, Eversource asked for the decision to be reconsidered.

On Monday, the SEC declined to take up any such request until after their written decision comes out.

Sunset Power Lines
Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee meets Monday to discuss what to do about Eversource's appeal for its Northern Pass permit.

The meeting comes weeks after the SEC first rejected the proposed transmission line, which would run nearly 200 miles from Canada to New Hampshire.

Eversource's appeal argues that denial didn't give the Northern Pass plan its due consideration.

Eversource

The Department of Environmental Services has finished a long-awaited report on a Seacoast power line proposal from Eversource.

The DES is recommending the state Site Evaluation Committee approve the 13-mile reliability project – with conditions.

Those center on the potential water quality and sediment effects of Eversource’s plan to bury nearly a mile of cable under Little Bay, between Durham and Newington.

Before the state decides whether to permit the project, DES wants Eversource to test its proposed method, which involves blowing a trench across the bay bottom.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Eversource is asking New Hampshire regulators to reconsider their rejection of the Northern Pass project.

The utility filed a motion Wednesday with the state Site Evaluation Committee, or SEC. It wants the committee’s Feb. 1 denial of the project thrown out and the case re-heard. Eversource argues the SEC didn’t do its required diligence in discussing all the criteria the project had to meet to get a permit. 

Thomas Gehrke / Flickr Creative Commons

Officials in Massachusetts are still debating the future of a big renewable energy contract for their state.

That’s after their initial pick, Northern Pass, hit a major roadblock in New Hampshire – though the transmission proposal still has support from Gov. Chris Sununu.

The Commonwealth picked Eversource's Northern Pass plan last month for a long-term contract that must start in 2020. That choice was thrown into limbo a week later, when New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee denied the project its final permit.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state Site Evaluation Committee waded deeper into questions of Northern Pass's impact on the North Country on Wednesday.

Fewer protesters and even fewer supporters were there to listen than on the first day, as members continued their final deliberations on permitting the transmission line.

In discussions of how Northern Pass will affect land-use plans along its route, members seemed to grow more conflicted about how to define the tipping point where the project might become too impactful.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The final witnesses gave testimony on the Northern Pass transmission line Thursday, after eight months of hearings and years of planning.

Day 70 of adjudicative hearings at the New Hampshire site evaluation committee centered on wetlands and property values.

Ray Lobdell, with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, testified in the morning session on whether Northern Pass would affect more sensitive habitat than expected.

Chris Jensen / NHPR

Eight months of hearings on the Northern Pass transmission line are set to wrap up this week.

It's the last step before state regulators start deliberating on the controversial project, which is years in the making.

Annie Ropeik/NHPR News

The state has three weeks of hearings left before moving into deliberations on the Northern Pass project – so opponents are gathering last-minute comments from residents on the power line's proposed route.

Officials with the town of Durham say they remain concerned about a proposal to bury a long-distance power cable across a one-mile stretch of Great Bay.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

More than one hundred groups and individuals were granted the official status of “interveners” before the state’s Site Evaluation Committee, which reviews proposed energy projects. These interveners have the right to file motions on the Northern Pass project, a $1.6 billion proposal that would connect hydroelectric dams in Quebec to the New England electricity markets.

A North County woman has been named to a Site Evaluation Committee group to consider the Northern Pass project.
 
Rachel Whitaker of Stark will serve as  one of two public members on the subcommittee.  She fills a spot left vacant by the death of Roger Hawk.

The citizen positions are new, following a legislative restructuring of the SEC in an attempt to streamline it and make it more responsive to the public’s concerns.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Citing a desire to avoid a confrontation with a legislative committee, the Site Evaluation Committee Wednesday softened proposed a rule involving "public interest" as part of its consideration of new utility projects.

The issue at the meeting was whether the Site Evaluation Committee had gone beyond what the legislature intended when it ordered the body’s reorganization so it would better serve "the public good" and "provide clarity" about its rules and how it makes decisions.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Over the next year, the state’s Site Evaluation Committee will consider whether to okay the controversial Northern Pass project.  Eventually it is also likely to weigh in on at least one wind farm and the Kinder Morgan pipeline.  That puts a spotlight on the committee-- made up of seven state officials and two members of the public.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

Northern Pass Opponents Plan For The Next Phase

Jun 8, 2015
Chris Jensen for NHPR

Organizers of the opposition to Northern Pass – along with a state senator - on Sunday said it is time to prepare to persuade state regulators that - in its current form - the project is a mistake.

About 120 people filled the Easton Town Hall.

The gathering was called because Northern Pass will soon be asking the state’s Site Evaluation Committee to approve the controversial project.

Without that approval, the project can’t move ahead.

Anyone can provide comments to the SEC.

Three North Country legislators were among those who voted to kill a bill that would have recommended - but not required - elective, electric transmission lines on towers over 50 feet high be buried, ideally along state rights-of-way.

The bipartisan bill - H.B. 431 - was sponsored by Larry Rappaport, a Republican from Colebrook and several other North Country representatives. 

The state’s executive council has confirmed two appointees to the Site Evaluation Committee.

Roger Hawk, a planning consultant from Concord, and Patricia Weathersby, a lawyer from Rye, will serve as the public’s representatives on the SEC.

The nine member Site Evaluation Committee consists mostly of the heads of various state agencies, and authorizes large-scale energy proposals such as power plants and transmission lines.

The positions are new this year, as the SEC was reformed in an attempt to streamline it and make it more responsive to the public’s concerns.

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

There was movement on energy policy in both chambers of the New Hampshire legislature today. While reforming the approval process for power plants sailed through the House, rules encouraging burial of power lines got hung up in the Senate.

After making a few changes to a Senate version, on a voice vote the New Hampshire house passed changes to how proposed power plants get a permit. That means if the Senate agrees to the House version beginning in July, new projects will need to increase the amount of public outreach they do before submitting applications to be built.

Lawmakers in the Senate are scheduled to take up a series of much-anticipated energy bills today. There are four energy bills on the docket today, three of which are responses to controversial energy projects.

One would create state-owned rights of way for any new transmission line not needed to keep the lights on as determined by the regional grid operator. If passed developers would have to bury power lines, unless they could prove that isn’t feasible.

Flikr Creative Commons / Claudio Schwarz

New Hampshire’s energy community turned out at a Senate hearing on Wednesday to react to a senate bill proposing changes to the Site Evaluation Committee, which approves power plants. The proposed changes include shrinking the SEC to five members, including two public representatives, hiring dedicated support staff, and requiring projects have a net public benefit.

Michael Kappel / Flickr CC

One of the biggest questions of this legislative session is how New Hampshire lawmakers will tweak the rules for how the state approves Energy Projects, in a body called the Site Evaluation Committee?

Critics of the Northern Pass and wind farms have converged on this issue as one area where they might get something through the statehouse, and they’ve even found common ground with some project developers, who think the SEC process is unwieldy.  

Tuesday night in Plymouth the state’s Office of Energy and Planning held its last public hearing on possible changes to the state’s Site Evaluation Committee - which is responsible for approving utility projects ranging from wind farms to Northern Pass - and the theme was that the SEC needs a significant and wide-ranging overhaul before it can be trusted.

About three dozen people attended and their concerns echoed those voiced at previous meetings around the state.

A central issue was that all fifteen members of the SEC are officials from state agencies.

Thomas Gehrke / Flickr Creative Commons

Tuesday night state officials heard from New Hampshire residents concerned about how the state approves power plants and other transmission lines. The group was weighing in on a variety of proposed changes to the SEC – a quasi-judicial, 15-member body that decides whether energy projects should be built.

Evaluating The Site Evaluation Committee

Dec 3, 2013

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley: This week the public has a chance to weigh in on the future of the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.  The SEC reviews major utility projects, including proposed wind farms and the Northern Pass project. 

The concerns of opponents of those projects prompted Governor Hassan to sign Senate Bill 99.  It calls for a review of how the SEC works with a report due at the end of December. 

This week’s listening sessions and workshops include one tonight in Manchester.

A series of public meetings begin the first week in December to determine what changes, if any, should be made to how the state’s Site Evaluation Committee works, including whether the public should have a decision-making role in approving new utility projects.

The SEC reviews major utility projects, which will include Northern Pass.

Currently the SEC has fifteen members, all from state agencies.

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