The Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) is established in state law (RSA 162-H) to provide one stop shopping for regulatory review and permitting of newly proposed large energy facilities --- generating stations, transmission lines, and pipelines. An energy developer must submit a comprehensive project application to the SEC, and the SEC must make four specific findings before it can decide to issue or deny a permit application.
The SEC has jurisdiction of any new energy facility that generates more than 30 megawatts of electricity, including facilities that use renewable fuels (wind, hydro, wood) and projects that use fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, coal). It also has jurisdiction over new transmission facilities like Northern Pass and the Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline. The SEC website provides complete documentation of all applications and proceedings considering applications.
During the 2014 session, the Legislature and Governor passed SB 245 which made several fundamental changes to the SEC. Most notably, the bill required the SEC to make a separate finding that an energy project as proposed is in the public interest. In addition, SB 245 reformed SEC membership to include more public participation in the decision-making process and added two public members, appointed by the Governor and Executive Council, to serve with seven state agency representatives on the full SEC panel. Finally, the bill provided paid staff to the SEC, including a full time administrator. (Until the approval of SB 245 the SEC had neither dedicated staff nor an operating budget.)
The Legislature also mandated that the SEC adopt comprehensive siting criteria for new energy facilities by November 1, 2015. The Joint Legislative Committee on Rules approved the SEC’s proposed rules at JLCAR’s December 3, 2015 meeting. The rules can be found here. The Forest Society, working with partners at the Appalachian Mountain Club, Audubon Society of NH, Conservation Law Foundation and the NH Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, actively participated in this rule-making process. Copies of the testimony and comments we submitted can be found here.