Sununu Signs Bill Expanding Public Member Pool, Requiring More Training For SEC

Jun 8, 2018

Audience members study maps during Northern Pass hearings last year at the Site Evaluation Committee, seated at the front of the room.
Credit Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu has signed a bill allowing him to appoint more private citizens to the state Site Evaluation Committee and requiring them to undergo more training.

The SEC is tasked with approving big energy projects in New Hampshire.

Right now, it includes the state's three public utilities commissioners and other state agency heads, plus two public members – citizens, appointed by the governor, who have some relevant expertise.

Those public members currently have to work on every application the SEC considers.

The bill Sununu signed will expand the potential pool of public members to five. It also requires more training for new SEC members, and annual training on siting regulations for all members.

In a statement, Sununu says these changes will help make the state's energy siting process more “fair, predictable and communicative.”

“By easing the burden on overworked SEC members and allowing for their greater education, we will be better able offer an equitable process,” Sununu says.

The SEC has come under fire from proponents of the embattled Northern Pass project. They felt the SEC mishandled its rejection of the proposed transmission line earlier this year, and that the entire process took too long.

The bill Sununu signed is the only SEC-focused bill that became law this legislative session.

One measure, which would give all nine voting slots on the SEC to public members and add stricter considerations for wind projects, was sent for interim study.

Another bill, to make SEC approvals automatic if the group exceeded its year deadline for deciding on a project, was tabled.