House Committee to Vote on Bill Proposing Detrimental Changes to the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee

Matt Leahy | February 25, 2022
NH State House dome seen from Conservation Center in winter covered in snow.

The Committee on Science, Technology and Energy in the New Hampshire House of Representatives will vote on March 1 on House Bill 1611, legislation that would require the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee to amend important rules governing the aesthetics and safety of energy facilities.

The Forest Society opposes this bill.  We joined with our partners at the Nature Conservancy, New Hampshire Audubon and the Appalachian Mountain Club in submitting testimony against HB 1611. We believe it will undermine the extensive stakeholder process that led to the revision of New Hampshire’s energy facilities siting law (RSA 162-H) in 2014 and the accompanying administrative rules for the SEC. By doing so, it will undo the delicate balance that stakeholder process achieved between the need for energy and for protecting our state’s natural resources. 

We would encourage readers to email members of the Committee to express opposition. These are main points to make:

  • The legislation is based on a faulty premise when in fact the NH Site Evaluation has the authority under its authorizing statute RSA 162-H to set the rules.
  • The Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) approved the current SEC rules back in 2015.  JLCAR is the legislative committee charged with giving final approval to the rules all state agencies propose. In other words, the Legislature reviewed the current SEC rules and determined the SEC’s rules do not exceed its authority and are not contrary to the intent of the Legislature.
  • There may further improvements needed to the SEC statute and the SEC Administrative Rules. However, any process to make such changes should be modeled after extensive information gathering and public engagement efforts which led to the changes in 2014 and 2015.