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Massachusetts Certificate of Environmental Impact and Public Interest (8-MA-d)

In Massachusetts, a developer may petition the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (Siting Board) for a Certificate of Environmental Impact and Public Interest if a state or local agency has denied the developer approval to construct or operate a facility. Specifically, the Siting Board must "…consider a Petition for a Certificate of Environmental Impact and Public Interest (Certificate) if the electric company is prevented from building a facility because it cannot meet standards imposed by a state or local agency…or because the processing or granting by a state or local agency of any approval, consent, permit or certificate has been unduly delayed for any reason…" A Certificate, in effect, overrules the state or local agency's decision to deny an approval to construct or operate a facility.

A "facility" is, in part:

  • A generating facility;
  • A new electric transmission line having a design rating of 69 kV or more and which is one mile or more in length on a new transmission corridor;
  • A new electric transmission line having a design rating of 115 kV or more which is ten (10) miles or more in length on an existing transmission corridor except re-conductoring or rebuilding of transmission lines at the same voltage; and
  • An ancillary structure which is an integral part of the operation of any transmission line which is a facility.
M.G.L. 164 § 69G.



Certificate of Environmental Impact and Public Interest Process

8-MA-d.1 - Petition for Certificate of Environmental Impact and Public Interest

A developer of a new electric transmission line or an ancillary structure that is an integral part of the operation of any transmission line that meets the definition of facility pursuant to M.G.L. 164 § 69G may file a Petition for Certificate of Environmental Impact and Public Interest (Petition) with the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (Siting Board). M.G.L. 164 § 69L

The Siting Board must "…consider a Petition for a Certificate of Environmental Impact and Public Interest (Certificate) if the electric company is prevented from building a facility because it cannot meet standards imposed by a state or local agency…or because the processing or granting by a state or local agency of any approval, consent, permit or certificate has been unduly delayed for any reason…or the electric...company believes there are inconsistencies among resource use permits issued by such state or local agencies, or the electric company believes that a non-regulatory issue or condition has been raised or imposed by such state or local agencies such as but not limited to aesthetics and recreation, or the facility cannot be constructed due to any disapprovals, conditions or denials by a state or local agency or body, except with respect to any lands or interests therein, excluding public ways, owned or managed by any state agency or local government. M.G.L. 164 § 69K.

The Petition must include, at minimum, the following:

  • A description of the location of the facility to be constructed or operated;
  • A summary of the studies which the applicant (developer) has made of the environmental impact of the facility and a statement of reasons for its choice of location;
  • A copy of the long-range plan, or Petition for Construction of a Facility approved under the provisions of M.G.L. 164 § 69J, in proof of the need for the facility to meet the energy requirements of the developer's market area, taking into account wholesale bulk power…or other cooperative arrangements with other utilities and energy policies as adopted by…Massachusetts, provided that this requirement may be waived by the Siting Board for emergency or unforeseen conditions which jeopardize the health and safety of the public;
  • A statement setting forth the need of the developer for the Certificate. The statement must include:
    • all licenses, permits and other regulatory approvals required by love for the construction or operation of the facility which have been granted;
    • a representation as to the good faith effort made by the developer to obtain from state agencies and local governments the licenses, permits and other regulatory approvals required by law for the construction or operation of the facility;
    • a representation as to the inability, if any, of the developer to comply with any law, ordinance, by-law, rule and regulation affecting the construction or operation of the facility; or
    • a representation as to the developer's inability to proceed with the construction or operation of the facility by reason of the denial, delay, or imposition of a burdensome condition in issuing specified licenses, permits or approvals; and
    • other information as the applicant (developer) may deem relevant or the Siting Board may require by regulation.
  • A copy or copies of the information, studies, and other pertinent information must be filed and made available for public inspection and copying.

M.G.L. 164 § 69L(1)-(5).

The developer must also submit with the Petition, an affidavit certifying that:

  • A copy of the Petition and a notice as to the date on which the Petition is to be filed has been served on each of the following:
    • the mayor of each city; and
    • the board of selectmen of each town in which any part of the proposed facility is to be located;
    • the secretary of each executive office; and
    • the attorney general.
  • Public notice thereof containing a summary of the Petition and the date on which notice is to be filed was given by publication. i

M.G.L. 164 § 69L(B)(1)-(2).

Note: Generating facilities must follow different procedures as outlined in M.G.L. 164 §§ 69K1/2, L1/2.

8-MA-d.2 - Provide Notice of Petition

The developer must provide a notice and copy of the Petition to:

  • The mayor of each city; and
  • The board of selectmen of each town in which any part of the proposed facility is to be located;
  • The secretary of each executive office; and
  • The attorney general.

M.G.L. 164 § 69L(B)(1).

The developer must also provide notice of the Petition by publication in a manner prescribed by the Siting Board. M.G.L. 164 § 69L(B)(2).

8-MA-d.3 to 8-MA-d.4 - Review Petition Materials for Completeness

The Siting Board must review the Petition materials for administrative and technical completeness.

8-MA-d.5 - Publish Notice of Public Hearing

The Siting Board, upon receipt of a complete Petition, must publish notice of the public hearing regarding the Petition at least 21 days prior to holding the public hearing. M.G.L. 164 § 69L(B)(2); M.G.L. 30A § 3. Unless otherwise specified, the Siting Board must publish notice in newspapers, and where appropriate, in such trade, industry or professional publications as the Siting Board determines. The Siting Board must also provide notice of the public hearing to:

  • Any person to whom specific notice must be given, such notice must be given by delivering or

mailing a copy of the notice to the last known address of the person required to be notified;

  • State secretary.

M.G.L. 30A § 3.

The parties in interest to the proceeding on a Petition include:

  • The applicant (developer);
  • Each public officer entitled to receive notice of the filing under the provisions of M.G.L. 164 §§ 69L and 69L1/2, whichever is applicable;
  • Such other persons or organizations as may be permitted to intervene pursuant to M.G.L. 30A et seq.

The notice must:

  • Refer to the statutory authority under with the action is proposed;
  • Give the time and place of the public hearing;
  • State the manner in which date, views, arguments may be submitted to the Siting Board by interested parties.

M.G.L. 30A § 3.

8-MA-d.6 to 8-MA-d.7 - Hold Public Hearing

The Siting Board must hold a public hearing on the Petition not less than 60 days nor more than 90 days from the date specified in the notice of the Petition. M.G.L. 164 § 69M;

The Siting Board must provide a period of 30 days following the date of the public notice during which time interested persons may submit their views of the contents of the public notice with respect to the Petition for a Certificate. The Siting Board must retain all written comments submitted during the 30-day comment period. M.G.L. 164 § 69M;

8-MA-d.8 to 8-MA-d.9 - Review Petition for Approval

After the public hearing, the Siting Board must review the Petition materials along with the written public comments and make a final determination on the Petition. M.G.L. 164 §§ 69M-69O.

The Siting Board must make a decision on the Petition no more than six months from the date of filing the Petition. The Siting Board must by majority vote render a decision on the Petition either denying the Petition, granting the Petition, or granting the Petition subject to certain terms and conditions as prescribed by the Siting Board. M.G.L. 164 § 69O.

The Siting Board must make its decision in writing and must include therein its findings and opinions with respect to the following:

  • The need for the facility to meet the energy requirements of the applicant's (developer) market area taking into account wholesale bulk power or purchases or co-operative arrangements with other utilities and energy policies as adopted by Massachusetts;
  • The compatibility of the facility with considerations of environmental protection, public health, and public safety;
  • The extent to which construction and operation of the facility will fail to conform with existing state and local laws, ordinances, by-laws, rules and regulations and reasonableness of exemption thereunder, if any, consistent with the implementation of the energy policies to provide necessary energy supply for Massachusetts with a minimum impact on the environment at the lowest possible cost; and
  • The public interest, convenience and necessity requiring construction and operation of the facility.

M.G.L. 164 § 69O.

Note: Generating facilities must follow different procedures as outlined in M.G.L. 164 §§ 69K1/2; O1/2.

8-MA-d.10 - Certificate of Environmental Impact and Public Interest

The developer must comply with the terms and conditions of the Certificate.

8-MA-d.11 - Appeal Decision (Optional)

Any party in interest aggrieved by a decision of the Siting Board may file an appeal with the within 20 days after the date of service of the Siting Board's decision pursuant to Massachusetts - Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 25 et seq., Department of Public Utilities. M.G.L. 164 § 69P.


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