Legislative round-up UPDATE: New Hampshire bill establishes a state energy strategy plan

State lawmakers continue to work on transmission-related legislation in the East, including New Hampshire legislators who are looking into establishing a state energy strategy plan.

In Maryland, a hearing will be held on Feb. 21 regarding a utility’s abilty to recover profits lost during outages, and in Virginia, a bill has been taken off the table for the 2013 legislative assembly.

New Hampshire

SB 191, which was introduced in January by state Sen. Bob Odell and establishes a state energy strategy plan, will be heard on March 6 in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to Odell’s office.

According to the bill, the goal of the energy planning process is to map the state’s energy future by showing how New Hampshire can ensure adequate power supplies, reduce demand through new technologies and energy efficiency, protect the environment, reduce carbon emissions, reduce dependence on imported gas and oil, support clean and local renewable energy sources, stimulate economic growth and preserve citizens’ individual welfare.

In the bill, the New Hampshire General Court finds that a comprehensive and integrated energy strategy plan will provide needed information about the adequacy of the state’s transmission and distribution infrastructure, among other things.

The bill also notes that a state energy council would be tasked with developing a 10-year energy strategy plan every two years. Four public hearings are to be completed by Nov. 1, and a plan should be issued by July 1, 2014.

The state energy strategy plan is to include an assessment of the reliability of existing energy supply sources and existing transmission or fuel transportation systems to satisfy demand, together with those sources or systems reasonably certain to be available, indicating planned additions, retirements and other expected changes in levels of generating and production capacity.

It should also include how regional generation, transmission, distribution resources and policy affect the state; an assessment of the risks to the state’s generation and transmission infrastructure from the effects of projected climate change, including damage from extreme weather events, coastal flooding and inundation from sea level rise, and the effects of projected higher temperature on electrical demand; and an analysis of siting requirements for electric generation resources and natural gas and electric transmission and distribution resources.

Another bill, SB 99, whose sponsors include state Sen. Jeanie Forrester, makes changes to the process for applying for a certificate for an energy facility.

According to Forrester’s office, the bill has been assigned to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and it has not had a hearing yet.

According to the bill, the General Court finds that changes in national, regional and state regulation of energy transmission facilities over the last decade require that the state energy facilities siting law be updated.

The site evaluation committee, after having considered available alternatives and fully reviewed the environmental impact of the facility, site and route, as applicable, and available alternatives, must find that the site and facility, if a large transmission facility that is an electric transmission line considered elective by ISO New England:

  • Has obtained affirmative majority votes of support from the legislative bodies in at least a majority of the municipalities where the facility is to be located.
  • If including aboveground transmission lines, has no available underground alternative and will minimize adverse effects on private property values, aesthetics and viewsheds.
  • Will meet public needs within the state, other than construction-related employment and tax revenues.

A large transmission facility means an energy facility that is, for instance, an electric transmission line that is either more than 200-kV and more than 10 miles long, or is located in multiple municipalities.

Maryland

A bill, HB0029, which is sponsored by state Del. Cathy Vitale and prohibits the state Public Service Commission (PSC) from authorizing an electric company to adjust the electric company’s rates or impose any fee to recover profits lost during a disruption in electrical service, will have a hearing on Feb. 21, according to the state General Assembly’s website.

The bill is in the House of Delegates Economic Matters Committee.

The PSC in October 2012 ruled that electric companies may no longer include sales lost during the first 24 hours of a major outage event in their bill stabilization adjustment calculations. The question arose following the June 2012 derecho storm, which caused extensive property damage and power outages for more than 1 million Maryland citizens, according to the PSC.

Virginia

HB 1943, which was introduced by state Del. Alfonso Lopez, and required the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC), when required to approve the construction of any electrical utility facility, to consider the long-term price stability of any fuels used in the generation of energy from the facility, will no longer be considered for the 2013 General Assembly Session, according to Lopez’s office.

As of Feb. 5, the bill was left in the House Committee on Commerce and Labor, where it was referred to on Jan. 9, according to the state’s Legislative Information System website.

According to the bill, current state law notes that no electrical transmission line of 138-kV or more is to be built unless the SCC, after at least 30 days’ advance notice, approves such line.

Among other things, the bill also notes that if the local comprehensive plan of an affected county or municipality designates corridors or routes for electric transmission lines and the line is proposed to be built outside such corridors or routes, the county or municipality may provide adequate evidence that the existing planned corridors or routes designated in the plan can adequately serve the company’s needs.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3160 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.