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New Hampshire Senate set to vote on bevy of energy bills

Lawmakers in the Senate are scheduled to take up a series of much-anticipated energy bills today. There are four energy bills on the docket today, three of which are responses to controversial energy projects.

One would create state-owned rights of way for any new transmission line not needed to keep the lights on as determined by the regional grid operator. If passed developers would have to bury power lines, unless they could prove that isn’t feasible.

Another bill addresses some North Country residents’ fears that an oil pipeline could be reversed and carry crude extracted from the Alberta Oil Sands from Montreal to Portland, Maine. That bill would hire personnel trained in spill response to be stationed in the county the pipeline passes through.

A third would reform the siting rules for wind farms, requiring consideration of visual impacts, noise levels, and “cumulative impacts” from multiple wind projects. It would also require a fire safety plan and plans for how to take the wind farm down when it reaches the end of its permit.

The final bill is a reform of the Site Evaluation Committee, which approves all large energy projects. It would shrink the committee from 15 members to 7, with three members being designated from geographic areas of the state. It would also provide funding for a new staff member, who would support the – currently ad-hoc – committee.