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The Northern Pass

Northern Pass, a corporate partnership among power companies Northeast Utilities, PSNH and Hydro-Quebec, proposes to construct 1100 towers on 180 miles of high-voltage transmission line from Canada through New Hampshire. When the Northern Pass project was presented to the public, the Forest Society listened to its proponents and carefully considered their arguments. As an organization that has modeled the use of renewable energy systems at our headquarters in Concord and advocated energy conservation and sustainable energy policies, we are aware of the benefits of the use of renewable hydropower. We have supported policies to promote the use of New Hampshire's own renewable energy sources, especially those that use sustainable forestry to generate energy from biomass.

However, we concluded that the downsides of Northern Pass far outweigh any potential positives. We strongly oppose Northern Pass as proposed. To learn more about why we oppose Northern Pass, and the permitting process it will require, click here.


To make your voice heard and stay up-to-date, register with Trees NOT Towers.

To contribute financially, click here.

Click here to read the Forest Society's scoping comments submitted on June 14 to the US Department of Energy on the Northern Pass proposal.

For a list of talking points that outline the Forest Society's position on Northern Pass, click here.

Click here to read Jane Difley's remarks about Northern Pass on March 14, or click here to listen to a recording of Difley's comments courtesy of WTPL 107.7 The Pulse.

Click here to see an outline of the permitting process, including a map showing the proposed project route.

For a map of the proposed Northern Pass corridor, click here.


The following items are extracted from the No Northern Pass NH blog. Visit the blog to view comments or leave your own.


Why Burying Transmission Cables is a Viable Alternative

Forest Society, 8/1/2014


By Will Abbott

From the beginning, the main issue the Forest Society has had with Northern Pass has been with how the project proposes to bring electrons to the marketplace.  We are not philosophically opposed to importing electricity from Canada, but we are opposed to the 180-mile scar that the proposed overhead towers would create on New Hampshire landscapes from Pittsburg to Deerfield.
 
If the power is needed, or even desired, we believe there is new technology available that makes it possible for New Hampshire to accommodate Northern Pass in a way that is good for the state, for Quebec and for the utility proposing to build Northern Pass (Northeast Utilities, owner of Public Service Company of New Hampshire).

The new technology involves a buried high-voltage, direct current cable designed to be placed in a trench that dissipates the heat from the cables. By using a trench dug along an existing transportation right of way, like an interstate highway or a continuous railroad right of way where the state already owns the land beneath the right of way, Northern Pass could be built in a way that avoids the adverse visual impacts of overhead lines.  In addition, the state would generate a little extra money for its depleted highway fund by leasing the right of way to the utility.

One company that manufactures this new cable calls its product “HVDC Light.”  The company, a Swiss firm by the name of ABB, Inc., is so attracted to the future of this product that they have recently completed a new $400 million manufacturing facility in North Carolina to manufacture this and other cable products.  A representative from ABB has testified before New Hampshire legislative committees to explain how its product works.  The cable itself costs $2 million a mile, and, based on previous installations, company representatives estimate that trench costs for a previously disturbed corridor are in the range of $3-$4 million a mile.  This makes the total likely cost significantly below the claimed expense of $20 million a mile being made by representatives of Northeast Utilities.

If southern New England states need electrons from Quebec to meet their electric needs, and if they prefer this over building new generating facilities in their own states, it only seems fair that they should pay for the cost of burying Northern Pass through New Hampshire.  Or, at least they should be willing to pay the differential cost between overhead lines and buried lines on existing state-owned rights of way.  The N.H. Department of Transportation has already identified New Hampshire’s  three existing interstate highways (plus Route 101 from Manchester to the Seacoast) as appropriate corridors for such buried facilities to be studied further.  Maybe Hydro-Quebec can partner with the southern New England states to share these added costs. 

The decision to site such an extension-cord facility in New Hampshire remains with the state and its people.   Northeast Utilities and Hydro-Quebec should not be allowed to jam overhead power lines down New Hampshire’s throat -- particularly in a situation like this where the electrons are not needed to keep the lights on.  Northern Pass is being built as a for-profit enterprise to benefit the shareholders of Northeast Utilities and the ratepayers of Quebec.  They are in business to make money (which is not a bad thing) and they have the right to propose a project that makes them more money.  They should not, however, be entitled to make money at the expense of one of New Hampshire’s greatest assets.  They are not entitled to scar the landscapes that are the social and economic fabric of our communities.

If the people behind Northern Pass want to build a project in New Hampshire that has broad public support, they should withdraw the project they have proposed and offer a new project that completely buries the new facility along appropriate state-owned transportation corridors.   Otherwise, the project should be abandoned altogether.


Will Abbott is vice president of Policy and Reservation Stewardship at the Forest Society.

Northern Pass Updates: DOE Releases Preliminary Alternatives Report; a Northern Pass Competitor Files for Presidential Permit; and NU Considers a Line in Vermont

Forest Society, 7/18/2014 (updated 7/31/2014)


Northern Pass opponents have been waiting to learn to what extent the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) listened to the voluminous public comments regarding the need to analyze alternatives to the proposed overhead transmission line, such as burial along transportation corridors. The fear has been that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would be completed without serious study of such alternatives.
Prompted by requests from the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation, the DOE released on May 1 a preliminary report outlining the alternatives that will be studied as part of the EIS for the proposed Northern Pass transmission line.
Now that the report is out, the rush is on to understand not only what it says but what it might mean for Northern Pass. The caveat, however, is that this is clearly a preliminary report. As the document itself notes:
This Alternatives Addendum document briefly discusses alternatives that will, as of this time, be included in the draft EIS. However, this ongoing review may generate new information that results in changes or additions to, or reorganization of, the information presented below. DOE will use the information gathered during this process to identify which of the alternatives are reasonable.
In other words, if any one listed alternative is determined to be "unreasonable" by the DOE, it may get short shrift. The report goes on to say:
The range of reasonable alternatives will be analyzed in detail in the draft EIS, including discussion of design specifics and an analysis of potential environmental impacts. DOE also will identify those alternatives that are not reasonable and, in the draft EIS, will briefly discuss the reasons those alternatives were eliminated from detailed study.

The Alternatives Being Analyzed
There are 24 alternatives summarized in the report, including the so-called "Proposed Action" (the largely overhead line that Hydro-Quebec and Northeast Utilities want to build) and the "No Action" alternative (what happens if no line at all is built).
Among the rest are 10 variations on burial of some or all of the line, which suggests that burial options are likely to be analyzed in some detail. Those variations include burying only 10 out of 187 miles to avoid overhead lines through the White Mountain National Forest, to "porpoising" above and below ground, to complete burial either along the proposed right of way or under roadways or rail corridors.
There are a few surprises, such as the possibility of locating the conversion station (the electricity would travel the greatest distance as direct current, or DC, but must be converted to alternating current, or AC, to be accepted into the New England grid) in Deerfield instead of Franklin as proposed by Northern Pass. This possibility has not been part of any significant public discussion to date.
One alternative would apparently consider a terminus other than Deerfield, and thus, as the report states, "Specific alternate locations for the project’s terminus substations were not suggested, but different locations could significantly expand the range of possible routes." Another alternative considers placing the transmission line in an above-ground "tube" or pipeline, while another considers using navigable waterways, such as the Merrimack River. It's unknown to what extent such alternatives will get close scrutiny.

What's Not Among the Alternatives
None of potential alternatives listed in the report contemplate an international border crossing other than the one requested by Hydro-Quebec and Northeast Utilities in Pittsburg, N.H. This is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is that absent eminent domain, all overhead and underground routes that start at that point are blocked by the Forest Society's ownership of the Washburn Family Forest in adjoining Clarksville, including land underneath Route 3. Northern Pass has yet to secure a legally permittable route, and the alternatives being studied by the DOE don't resolve that issue.
The sole Pittsburg starting point is also notable in that the shortest route for power to be delivered from Quebec to power-demand centers in southern New England--especially if buried along roadways such as I-91--would not begin there.
Also missing among the alternatives is any consideration of so-called HVDC Light technology, the kind of buried transmission cable to be used in similar projects in New York (Champlain-Hudson Express and Vermont (New England Clean Power Link).
Rather, it would appear that the DOE for the most part has chosen to study alternatives that start with the project developers' own assumptions--that the line would cross into the U.S. in Pittsburg, N.H., and proceed to Deerfield, N.H., using the limits of old-school transmission technology. This is somewhat less than some stakeholders had hoped for.  Gov. Maggie Hassan in her statement about the report, saw fit to note, "I continue to believe that, with any energy project, New Hampshire deserves the latest technologies in order to protect what we all love about our state... ."

Increased Interest in Vermont
Meanwhile, during a visit to New Hampshire, Vermont's Gov. Peter Shumlin offered to work with Gov. Hassan to look into using Interstate 91 as a potential route for a buried line.
"If anyone can get it done, it’s Governor Hassan, myself and others," he said. "We would love to find solutions to get our southern neighbors the juice they need without destroying our pristine forests."
Two other underground transmission proposals, both from Transmission Developers Inc. (TDI) are proposed for Vermont/New York. The Champlain-Hudson Express, an underground and underwater 330-mile 1,000MW project that would deliver power from Quebec to New York, is well ahead of Northern Pass in the permitting process. And in May, TDI applied for a Presidential Permit for its New England Clean Power Link, another underwater and underground transmission line that would deliver 1000MW of Hydro Quebec power to Ludlow, Vt., where it would connect to the New England grid. TDI projects a 2019 completion date and $1.2 billion price tag for that approximately 150-mile project.

Perhaps, then, it is not surprising that earlier this spring Northeast Utilities fielded their own proposals to connect to the regional grid in Vermont. NU denied that those proposals were meant as a hedge against the stymied Northern Pass project in New Hampshire, but would not say how much electricity would be carried nor what the source of power would be.

Forest Society, 7/7/2014


No Northern Pass Video 3: A Hiker's Perspective

 The unnecessary and unpopular Northern Pass electrical transmission line would cut across New Hampshire for 187 miles from north to south, crossing many hiking trails - including the Appalachian Trail - along the way. 1500 huge new towers with high-voltage lines would rise high above the trees, visible for miles around. 

We've partnered with the Conservation Media Group on a video series that helps shine the light on why the Northern Pass project should not go ahead as currently planned. Please watch the latest video, and - if you haven't already - join us in signing the petition urging opposition to the Northern Pass. New England's governors will meet in New Hampshire on July 15th; tell them before that meeting, "If Northern Pass does not agree to bury power lines, it should be stopped.” 

Over 4000 people have signed the petition to date. Please share this email and ask your friends and family to join you in taking action by adding their own signatures and sending the strongest possible message to the region's policymakers.



Tucker's Turn: The Numbers on Northern Pass

Forest Society, 6/13/2014



Update on Energy Bills HB 569, SB 245 and SB 281

Forest Society, 5/11/2014 (updated 5/12/2014)

The Legislature is considering three important bills regarding energy and the environment this week (the week of May 12):

On Thursday the State Senate votes on HB 569, a bill originally introduced by Representative Larry Rappaport of Colebrook and co-sponsored by Senator Jeff Woodburn of Dalton.  As modified by the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, and recommended on a 3-2 vote last week by the Committee, the bill says the Site Evaluation Committee “may” presume that overhead transmission lines not needed to keep the lights on will have an unreasonably adverse effect on aesthetics.  The bill also authorizes the NH Department of Transportation to facilitate the option to bury such transmission lines in state owned rights of way.  Please contact your senator and ask him or her to vote “YES” on HB 569 as recommended by the Senate Energy Committee.

On Wednesday the House votes on two important bills already approved by the Senate.  SB 245, introduced by Senator Jeanie Forrester, reforms the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) by amending RSA 162-H.  As most recently amended by committees in the House, this bill provides the needed changes to the SEC.  If enacted, the bill creates two new public member positions to sit on panels with state agency heads reviewing new energy facility applications, it requires the SEC to make a finding that a proposed project is in the public interest before deciding to award a permit and it provides the SEC with staff and financial resources to do its job.  Please contact your elected representative(s) in the New Hampshire House and ask that they vote “YES” on SB 245 as recommended by the House Finance Committee by a vote of 23-0.

The House will also be voting on Wednesday on SB 281, which provides legislative guidance to the SEC as it develops rules on the siting of wind energy projects.   The bill was tabled in last week’s House session, but is expected to be amended from the floor and voted on this week as well.  In conjunction with SB 245, the guidance for siting criteria provided by SB 281 will help ensure consistency and clarity in the SEC’s evaluation of wind energy project proposals.  Please ask your representative to vote “YES” on SB 281.



Preliminary Alternatives Report Released: What Does It Tell Us?

Forest Society, 5/9/2014 (updated 5/12/2014)

Prompted by requests from the New Hamphire Congressional Delegation, the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) released on May 1 a preliminary report (click here) outlining the alternatives that will be studied as part of the Evironmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Northern Pass transmission line.

Northern Pass opponents have been waiting to learn to what extent the DOE listened to the voluminous public comments regarding the need to analyze alternatives to the proposed overhead line, such as burial along transportation corridors. The fear has been that the EIS would be completed without serious study of such alternatives.

Now that the report is out, the rush is on to understand not only what it says but what it might mean for Northern Pass. The caveat, however, is that this is clearly a preliminary report. As the document itself notes,

"This Alternatives Addendum document briefly discusses alternatives that will, as of this time, be included in the draft EIS. However, this ongoing review may generate new information that results in changes or additions to, or reorganization of, the information presented below. DOE will use the information gathered during this process to identify which of the alternatives are reasonable."

In other words, if any one listed alternative is determined to be "unreasonable" by the DOE, it may get short shrift. The report goes on to say,

"The range of reasonable alternatives will be analyzed in detail in the draft EIS, including discussion of design specifics and an analysis of potential environmental impacts. DOE also will identify those alternatives that are not reasonable and, in the draft EIS, will briefly discuss the reasons those alternatives were eliminated from detailed study."

The Alternatives Being Analyzed
There are 24 alternatives summarized in the report, including the so-called "Proposed Action" (the largely overhead line that Hydro-Quebec and Northeast Utilities want to build) and the "No Action" alternative (what happens if no line at all is built).

Among the rest are 10 variations on burial of some or all of the line, which suggests that burial options are likely to be analyzed in some detail. Those variations include burying only 10 out of 187 miles to avoid overhead lines through the White Mountain National Forest, to "porpoising" above and below ground, to complete burial either along the proposed right of way or under roadways or rail corridors.

There are a few surprises, such as the possibility of locating the conversion station (the electricity would travel the greatest distance as direct current, or DC, but must be converted to alternating current, or AC, to be accepted into the New England grid) in Deerfield instead of Franklin as proposed by Northern Pass. This possibility has not been part of any significant public discussion to date.

One alternative would apparently consider a terminus other than Deerfield, and thus, as the report states, "Specific alternate locations for the projects terminus substations were not suggested, but different locations could significantly expand the range of possible routes." Another alternative considers placing the transmission line in an above-ground "tube" or pipeline, while another considers using navigable waterways, such as the Merrimack River. It's unknown to what extent such alternatives will get close scrutiny.


What's Not Among the Alternatives
None of potential alternatives listed in the report contemplate an international border crossing other than the one requested by Hydro-Quebec and Northeast Utilities in Pittsburg, N.H. This is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is that absent eminent domain, all overhead and underground routes that start at that point are blocked by the Forest Society's ownership of the Washburn Family Forest in adjoining Clarksville, including land underneath Route 3. Northern Pass has yet to secure a legally permitable route, and the alternatives being studied by the DOE don't resolve that issue.

The sole Pittsburg starting point is also notable in that the shortest route for power to be delivered from Quebec to power-demand centers in southern New England--especially if buried along roadways such as I-91--would not begin there.

Also missing among the alternatives is any consideration of so-called HVDC Light technology, the kind of buried transmission cable to be used in similar projects in New York (Champlain-Hudson Express and Vermont (New England Clean Power Link).

Rather, it would appear that the DOE for the most part has chosen to study alternatives that start with the project developers' own assumptions--that the line would cross into the U.S. in Pittsburg, N.H., and proceed to Deerfield, N.H., using the limits of old-school transmission technology. This is somewhat less than some stakeholders had hoped for.  Gov. Maggie Hassan in her statement about the report, saw fit to note, "I continue to believe that, with any energy project, New Hampshire deserves the latest technologies in order to protect what we all love about our state... ."

Meanwhile, during a visit to New Hampshire, Vermont's Gov. Peter Shumlin offered to work with Gov. Hassan to look into using Interstate 91 as a potential route for a buried line.

"If anyone can get it done it’s Governor Hassan, myself, and others," he said. "We would love to find solutions to get our southern neighbors the juice they need without destroying our pristine forests."

For an additional take on what the report does and does not accomplish, read this from the Conservation Law Foundation's Christophe Courchesne. The Union Leader's coverage can be read here, and the Concord Monitor's story is available here.


Sign the Online Petition to Gov. Hassan

Forest Society, 4/24/2014



In an effort to engage more of New Hampshire's citizens about Northern Pass, we have teamed up with the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Conservation Media Group (CMG), a non-profit group of filmmakers and conservationists. We are collaborating to make sure more people in New Hampshire know what's at stake. We need your help to do that. Please watch Tucker in this first video and join us and CMG to petition Governor Hassan to take a stronger stand in opposition to Northern Pass.

Tell her "if Northern Pass does not agree to bury power lines, it should be stopped."

If you would prefer to send your comments to Gov. Hassan directly, her address is:
Governor Maggie Hassan
State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301

Update On Energy Bills in the N.H. State Legislature (SB 245, SB 281, SB 569, HB 200)

Forest Society, 4/9/2014

Here's what's going on with SB 245, SB 281, SB 569 and SB 200:


SB 245, the SEC reform bill, passed the Senate on a voice vote and is now before the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee.  April 8 was the first day of ST&E hearings.  Go here for joint testimony from SPNHF, AMC, CLF and TNC.  Please reach out to House members to support SEC reform.

SB 281, which provides the SEC with a policy framework for siting wind energy projects, also passed the Senate on a voice vote, and is now being considered by the House ST&E Committee.  The SEC is already charged with developing administrative rules on wind siting by the end of 2014, but has received little guidance from the legislature on what the rules need to address.  SB 281 provides the SEC with this guidance.  The bill had its initial public hearing before the committee last week. Click here to read joint testimony on SB 281 submitted by the Forest Society and several of our conservation partners.   Please reach out to your House members, especially if they are members of the ST&E Committee, and ask them to support SB 281! 

The two burial bills, HB 569 and SB 200, are both now in the Senate.
HB 569 has been heard by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; please ask senators to support this bill. You'll find talking points on this blog (scroll down).  

SB 200 sits on the table in the Senate.  It complements HB 569 by creating authority for the NH Department of Transportation to identify and lease state owned transportation corridors for energy infrastructure (like transmission lines and pipelines). You'll find more info on SB 200 by scrolling down in this blog.

Talking Points for SB 281

Forest Society, 3/11/2014

SB 281: Policy Guidance for New Energy Facility Siting Rules

SB 99 enacted last session tasked the SEC with developing and adopting new administrative rules that establish regulatory criteria for the siting of energy facilities in New Hampshire by Jan. 1, 2015.  The goal was for these new criteria to guide the SEC in making the required statutory findings as to whether a proposed facility’s application met the test for regulatory approval.  

Another goal for these new rules was to assure the public, energy facility developers and all stakeholders in the SEC’s decision-making process that SEC decisions would be guided by a common set of decision-making criteria.  


SB 281 provides the SEC with direction on what policy goals should be met with the new administrative rules mandated by SB 99.  It offers eight discrete standards that the new rules should address.  It also authorizes the SEC to provide a property value guarantee to individual landowners when the SEC concludes that the landowner’s real estate value is adversely impacted by the siting of a specific project. 


If you have questions or comments regarding SB 281, please contact Chris Wells at cwells@forestsociety.org or 224-9945.

Talking Points for SB 200 and SB 245

Forest Society, 3/11/2014

SB 200: State-Owned Transportation Corridors as Energy Facility Corridors

This bill is designed to address urgent concerns raised by communities and landowners directly in the path of a non-reliability, elective, merchant transmission line proposed to bring Canadian electricity to southern New England through New Hampshire. If this power is wanted to meet southern New England’s energy needs, it should not be transmitted through New Hampshire on towers well above tree height if the communities and landowners directly affected do not want these large overhead transmission facilities.    

The SB 361 Commission reported that there was a feasible alternative to large overhead transmission systems: undergrounding along state-owned transportation corridors.  SB 200 provides statutory authority for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to identify state-owned transportation corridors that could be used for underground energy facilities --- like electric transmission lines or gas pipelines.  It provides the SEC with authority to request proposals from energy facility developers and to lease at fair-market value energy corridors designated.  It also provides the SEC with the authority to prioritize underground siting of merchant electric transmission lines in cases where the projects are not required for system reliability.

This process will be a triple win for the State of New Hampshire.  First, it provides developers of energy transmission facilities workable, long distance corridors.  Second, it provides an underground alternative to unsightly overhead transmission lines.   And third, it provides the state with a new revenue stream for road and bridge maintenance.  New Hampshire should be on the front edge of new technologies that offer innovative ways of meeting present and future energy needs.  SB 200 provides a pathway for New Hampshire to be on the leading edge.

As a North Country business owner wrote in Monday's Berlin Daily Sun, SB 200 is good for business and good for people: the bill "provide[s] some stability and foresight in the planning of certain large energy infrastructure projects. Energy developers will know that certain types of projects will have a corridor available and correspondingly are not appropriate outside the corridor. This will reduce if not eliminate a lot of the wasted time, effort and money expended in trying to site controversial projects. The efficient use of human and capital resources in developing large projects is of critical importance. As an investor and shareholder of energy related projects, greater efficiency makes sense to me."

SB 245 – Reforming the Site Evaluation Committee

In the spring of 2013, Commissioner Burack told a House committee that the current SEC process was close to the “breaking point” and that legislative reform was needed.  In response, the Legislature passed SB 99, requiring the Office of Energy and Planning to conduct a public stakeholder process to identify the issues of greatest concern and to issue a report to assist the Legislature in identifying reforms.  That report was presented on December 31, 2013, and informs many of the provisions contained in SB 245. Failure to act this session on SB 245 will likely mean picking up the pieces of a broken process after it happens.

The SEC is presently structured as “one stop shopping” for developers of energy facilities that generate or transmit electricity in volumes of 30 megawatts or more.  Under current law, 15 state agency heads serve as standing members of the SEC; they sit as judges on applications for new energy facilities in an adjudicative process established in RSA 162-H. These "judges" approve the application as presented, approve it with conditions, or deny it.

SB 245 addresses the following problems in the present structure and process:

1. Disconnect between the statute's core purpose and the decision-making the SEC is tasked to perform: no public interest finding required.The fundamental purpose of RSA 162-H is to serve the public interest in balancing the environment with the need for new energy. Yet none of the statutory findings the SEC is now required to establish in rendering a decision includes answering the big picture question of whether a proposed project is actually in the public interest.

SB 245 adds two new required findings to the three currently required by the statute (RSA 162-H:16). The first new finding is that the SEC must make a determination that the project is in the public interest. The second is that the SEC must make a determination that the proposed project is consistent with the State’s energy policy presently being developed by the Office of Energy and Planning.

2. The absence of a role for municipalities in the decision-making process. Municipalities have no seat at the SEC table where land use decisions directly impacting the community are made.

SB 245 does not remedy this deficiency by placing a member of the impacted community on the SEC, but it does require regional representation of public members to serve on the SEC.  It also requires the new public interest finding to specifically consider local zoning ordinances and municipal master plans in reaching a determination on the question of whether the project proposed is in the public interest.  

3. Public engagement in the SEC process is drastically compressed. Under current law, there is only one required public hearing on a proposed application, which must occur within 30 days of an SEC determination that an application is complete and ready for SEC consideration.  The public learns about the details of the project at the same hearing at which it is expected to comment.

SB 245 changes this by requiring the applicant to hold apre-application public information meeting and by requiring the SEC to hold a post application public information meeting followed by a later public hearing.  This provides the applicant with the opportunity to share the project formally with the public before submitting an application, and it provides the public with an opportunity to learn about the application as proposed BEFORE it is afforded the opportunity to make substantive comments on the proposal.  SB 245 also clarifies the role of the “public counsel” in SEC proceedings; the public counsel is an assistant attorney general appointed by the Attorney General to assure that the public interest in a well-informed SEC decision is attained with each application considered by the SEC.

4. The 15 statutory members of the SEC do not have the time necessary to fulfill the task of sitting on today’s SEC as judges. One application alone can consume 25 or more full days of a commissioner’s work year.  This makes it extremely difficult for them to do the primary jobs they are each hired to do.  

SB 245 proposes to replace the current statutory members of the SEC with an independent panel of seven individuals, nominated and vetted through the same process that senior agency leaders are now nominated and vetted.  Under SB 245 the state agencies will continue to provide the SEC with information critical to the decisions the SEC makes, but they will no longer be required to have their leaders serve as SEC judges.  

5. The SEC has no staff or resources to do one of the most important and high profile responsibilities performed by state government on behalf of the state’s citizens.  No application fee is charged to an applicant, yet the state spends thousands of taxpayer dollars in payroll and benefits alone for each day that the members of the SEC meet, take testimony and deliberate on an application.


SB 245 rectifies this resource drain by providing a means to charge fees to recover the costs of doing the SEC’s work and by providing the SEC with a staff director.

NOTE: See the amended versions of HB 200 and HB 245 in the N.H. Senate Calendar.

If you have questions or comments regarding SB 200 or SB 245, please contact Will Abbott at wabbott@forestsociety.org or 224-9945.



Read more at the No Northern Pass NH blog.

 

 
 
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