May 11, 2014

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

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.

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