The proposed Eversource West Roxbury to Needham Reliability Project has been a matter of great interest and concern to many Needham residents, elected officials, and the Town government of Needham. I have listened carefully to neighbors’ concerns, attended community meetings and public hearings, and conferred with the Town on the complexities of this proposed project. This month, the project has moved into the evidentiary hearing phase before the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB). Anne Weinstein, a member of my staff, has attended these day-long hearings to monitor the process and gather valuable information.
The Siting Board review process is a legal proceeding, where Eversource must demonstrate that the proposed project meets the requirements set forth in the Siting Board’s statute. It has been most interesting to listen and learn during these evidentiary hearings, where the parties may present witnesses and evidence, ask written questions, examine each other’s witnesses, and make arguments as to whether the evidence indicates that a proposed project should be approved, and if so, under what conditions. Some of the topics that have been examined so far include discussion of the various proposed routes, the project need, and the project approach and alternatives.
There are additional noticed hearings dates coming up in June (June 12, June 20 and TBD) where witnesses will be questioned on such topics such as Environmental Impacts/Route selection, electric and magnetic fields (EMF), visual impacts, and other project related issues. Ultimately, the Siting Board acts as a fact finder, and will approve or reject the proposed project based on the evidence developed during the proceeding. There are several more stages of the proceedings that follow the evidentiary hearing phase before a final decision is made. If you are interested in learning more, the Town of Needham website has information posted in the Hot Topics section (http://www.needhamma.gov/index.aspx?NID=3297) or go to the Energy Facilities Siting Board website at http://www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities-clean-tech/energy-facilities-siting-board/. The official docket for this project is EFSB 16-02-Petition of NSTAR Electric Company d/b/a Eversource Energy for Approval to Construct and Operate a New 115-kV Combination Overheard/Underground Transmission Line in West Roxbury, Dedham and Needham Pursuant to G.L. c. 164, § 72.
Of course, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions at State House, Room 33, Boston, MA 02133, by telephone at 617-722-2060, or by e-mail at Denise.Garlick@MAHouse.gov.