Forest Advocate: House Committee Delays Final Vote on NH Energy Site Evaluation Committee Legislation

Matt Leahy | March 20, 2023
View of the NH capitol from the Conservation Center in East Concord

The Committee on Science, Technology and Energy voted on March 13 to retain House Bill 609. The Forest Society opposed the bill and testified against it. 

House Bill 609 would significantly change New Hampshire’s law for the siting of large-scale energy projects. The bill proposes to eliminate the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC) and move the decision-making authority for the siting large-scale energy facilities to the NH Public Utilities Commission.

If passed, it would undo much of the work of the broad stakeholder process in 2014 and 2015 that led to significant improvements in the law and rules that governed the SEC. Most concerning, it would reduce the public’s ability to engage in the siting review process.

A retained bill is a bill that remains in the House committee to which it was referred for further work later in the legislative session. Every retained bill will ultimately get a committee recommendation of Ought to Pass (or Ought to Pass with Amendment), Inexpedient to Legislate, or Refer for Interim Study. Those recommendations will go to the full House for a vote at their first session next January.

Although it was not killed, or voted Inexpedient to Legislate, the Science, Technology and Energy Committee decision to retain the bill reflects the significant questions and concerns HB 609 generated.  The Forest Society would have preferred an ITL recommendation. However, we will re-engage on the bill when the Committee takes up the bill again in September.