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Rhode Island Transmission Siting License to Construct and Alter Major Energy Facilities (8-RI-a)

In Rhode Island, a developer needs a License to Construct and Alter Major Energy Facilities from the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board (Board) prior to siting, constructing, or altering a high voltage transmission line with a capacity of 69 kV or greater. The Board regulates transmission development pursuant to the Energy Facility Siting Act and Rhode Island – tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. et seq., Energy Facility Siting Board Rules of Practice and Procedure.


Transmission Siting License to Construct and Alter Major Energy Facilities Process

8-RI-a.1 to 8-RI-a.2 – Does the Project Have a Capacity of 69 kV or Greater?

A developer must obtain a License to Construct and Alter Major Energy Facilities (License) from the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board (Board) prior to constructing “major energy facilities” including high voltage transmission lines with a capacity of 69 kV or greater. Energy Facility Siting Act; tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.2.

If the proposed facility is not a major facility with high voltage transmission lines with a capacity of 69 kV or greater, the developer must still make an informational filing with the Board when the developer files any Application with any agency, board, or council to initiate a transmission development project. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-20. Informational filings must contain, at minimum:

  • Identification of the owners and affiliates of the proposed project; and a
  • Description the proposed facility, including its function and operating characteristics and construction plans. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-20.

8-RI-a.3 – Does the Project Qualify for an Expedited Review?

At the outset of a project, the developer should determine whether the project is eligible for an expedited review process. If a project is for the construction of power lines less than 6,000 feet, the project may be eligible for expedited review.

8-RI-a.4 to 8-RI-a.5 – Are the Proposed Power Lines Less Than 1,000 Feet in Length?

A project developer may file a Notice of Intent to Construct and Relocate Power Lines of Less than 1,000 Feet (“Notice of Intent”) with the Board and affected city or town councils if the project involves construction or relocation of power lines less than 1,000 feet with a capacity of 69 kV or more. The developer must file the Notice of Intent at least 60 days before commencing construction. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(c). The Notice of Intent must include, at minimum:

  • Identification of the proposed owners and affiliates associated with the proposed facility;
  • Detailed description of the proposed facility including length, route, function, and operating characteristics; and
  • Statement of reasons why the filing party (developer) does not believe that the proposed facility is a major energy facility. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(c).

8-RI-a.6 to 8-RI-a.7 – Review Notice of Intent for Completeness

The Board reviews the Notice of Intent for administrative and technical completeness and may request additional information from the developer if needed.

8-RI-a.8 – Provide Notice of Public Hearing

The Board must publish notice of the public hearing considering the Notice of Intent in Rhode Island’s major state newspaper and local paper at least 30 days prior to holding the hearing considering the Notice of Intent. The Board also publishes notice of the hearing on the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission webpage, at the location of the hearing, and on the Rhode Island Secretary of State website.

The Board compiles a service list of interested parties and gives notice of the hearing to those individuals listed. This service list may include:

  • The city or town clerk of an impacted municipality;
  • The mayor or administrator of an impacted municipality;
  • The solicitor of an impacted municipality; and
  • Any person identifying themselves as an interested party.

8-RI-a.9 to 8-RI-a.11 – File Notice of Intervention (Optional)

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (“DEM”), Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (“CRMC”) and impacted city or town may file a notice to intervene 20 days before the preliminary or final hearing. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.10(a). Upon filing a notice to intervene, the DEM, CRMC, and impacted cities or towns are granted intervenor status.

Any person claiming a right to intervene in a pending matter or proceeding may become an “intervenor” by filing a motion to intervene stating the factual basis of and grounds for intervention no less than 20 days before the preliminary or final hearing. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.2(n); tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.10(b)-(c). A right to intervene may be conferred by statute, when the intervenor has “an interest which may be directly affected and which is not adequately represented by existing parties” or when the intervenor’s participation in the proceeding is “in the public interest.” tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.10(b)-(c).

Upon filing a notice of intervention or motion to intervene the agency or person must provide a copy of the notice or motion to all other parties by mail or in-person service. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.20(a)-(b).

Once, a person or agency obtains intervenor status, then the person or agency retains intervenor status in the preliminary and final hearing processes. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.10(d).

8-RI-a.12 – File Objection (Optional)

Any intervenor or municipal council may file an objection with the Board within 30 days of the developer filing the Notice of Intent. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(d).

8-RI-a.13 to 8-RI-a.14 – Hold Public Hearing on the Notice of Intent

The Board holds a public hearing considering a complete Notice of Intent for approval. The public may comment during the public hearing.

8-RI-a.15 to 8-RI-a.17 – Review Notice of Intent for Approval

The Board must review the Notice of Intent for approval. The Board and must make a decision on the Notice of Intent no later than 45 days after the developer files the Notice of Intent. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(e).

8-RI-a.18 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

The developer, council of any affected town or city, and any other intervenor may appeal the Board’s decision on the Notice of Intent to the Rhode Island Supreme Court pursuant to tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-12. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(e).

8-RI-a.19 to 8-RI-a.20 – Are the Proposed Power Lines Between 1,000 and 6,000 Feet or Modifying/Relocating an Existing Line?

A developer may file a Notice of Intent to Construct Power Lines Between 1,000 and 6,000 Feet of to Modify or Relocate a Power Line (Notice of Intent), if the project involves construction of power lines more than 1,000 feet, but less than 6,000 feet with a capacity of 69 kV or more. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(f). The developer must file the Notice of Intent at least 90 days prior to initiating construction. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(f).

The Notice of Intent must include:

  • Identification of the proposed owners and affiliates associated with the proposed facility;
  • Detailed description of the proposed facility including length, route, function, and operating characteristics;
  • Detailed description of the impact of the project on the physical and social environment including studies on electromagnetic fields;
  • Studies that demonstrate the need for the proposed facility under the statewide master construction plan; and
  • Statement of reasons why the developer does not believe that the proposed facility is a major energy facility tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(f).

8-RI-a.21– Provide Notice of Public Hearing

Following the developer’s submission of a Notice of Intent, the Board must publish notice of the public hearing in Rhode Island’s major state newspaper and local paper at least 30 days prior to holding the hearing considering the Notice of Intent. The Board also publishes notice of the hearing on the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission webpage, at the location of the haring, and on the Rhode Island Secretary of State website. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.8(f).

The Board compiles a service list of interested parties and gives notice of the hearing to those individuals listed. This service list may include:

  • The city or town clerk of an impacted municipality;
  • The mayor or administrator or an impacted municipality;
  • The solicitor of an impacted municipality; and
  • Any person identifying themselves as an interested party.

8-RI-a.22 to 8-RI.a.23 – Hold Public Hearing

Upon providing notice, the Board holds a public hearing in one or more of the cities or towns impacted by a proposed project. The public may comment during the public hearing process. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(f).

8-RI-a.24 to 8-RI-a.25 – Review Notice of Intent for Approval

Following the public hearing, the Board must review the Notice of Intent for approval. The Board must make a determination on whether the project will have a significant impact on the environment, public, health, and safety sufficient to be treated as an alteration under the standard project review process within 60 days of the developer filing the Notice of Intent. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(h). If the Board denies the Notice of Intent, the developer may proceed to 8-RI-a.28 for a formal License Application and review process.

8-RI-a.26 to 8-RI-a.27 – Is the Project an Alteration?

If the Board approves the Notice of Intent and determines that the proposed project is not an alteration, then no formal license is required. If the project is not an alteration proceed to 8-RI-a.37. If the project is considered an alteration then the developer is required to file a formal License Application. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(h).

If the Board identifies an issue with the Notice of Intent that may have a significant impact on the environment or the public health, safety and welfare and determines that the proposal is an alteration then the developer must submit a formal License to Construct and Alter Major Energy Facilities Application (Application). tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(h).


8-RI-a.28 – License to Construct and Alter Major Energy Facilities Application

If the proposed project does not qualify the expedited review process, the developer must submit an Application to the Board.

Applications must, at a minimum:

  • Identify facility owners and affiliates;
  • Describe the proposed facility, including its function and operating characteristics and construction plans;
  • Describe the physical and social environmental impacts of the proposed project;
  • Include all studies and forecasts accompanied by supporting data and methodology;
  • Estimate costs of construction of the proposed facility;
  • Describe plans for waste management and decommissioning of the facility at the end of its useful life; and
  • Provide alternatives to the proposed facility. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-8.

8-RI-a.29 to 8-RI-a.31 – Is the Application Only for the Construction or Relocation of Transmission Lines?

If the Application only covers transmission lines, the developer may file a Request for an Expedited Final Hearing, including a draft preliminary order, along with the Application materials. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.9(h). The draft preliminary order, requesting an expedited final hearing, must contain expedited (shorter than the statutorily allowed maximum) timelines for the following:

  • Advisory opinions;
  • Public comment;
  • Hearings
  • Final hearing and procedural events.

The developer must also provide all parties with a copy of its request for an expedited final hearing. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.9(h).

8-RI-a.32 to 8-RI-a.36 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

A board-appointed Coordinator reviews the License Application for technical and administrative completeness.]]. The Coordinator must complete its review and notify the developer regarding the completeness of the Application within 30 days of the developer filing the Application. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-8; tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.7. If an Application is incomplete, upon the Coordinator’s first review of the Application, then the Coordinator returns the Application to the developer with a statement outlining the Application’s deficiencies tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-8; tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.7(c). The Coordinator also forwards this statement of deficiencies to the Board. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.7(c). The developer must re-submit the application materials addressing the deficiencies. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.7(c).

8-RI-a.37– Assign the Application a Docket Number

If a developer resubmits an Application, the Coordinator must assign the Application a docket number within 15 days and specify any continuing deficiencies with the Application. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-8; tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.7(c).

If an Application is complete and does not require resubmission, the Coordinator assigns the Application a docket number within 30 days. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-8; tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.7(c).

8-RI-a.38 – Provide Notice of Docketing Date

When the Coordinator assigns the Application a docket number, the Coordinator must provide notice of the docketing date to the Board, the developer, and chief executive officer of the municipality where the proposed facility is located. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.7(b).

8-RI-a.39 to 8-RI-a.40 – Request Funds to Conduct Studies

Impacted cities and towns may request funding from the developer to perform studies on local environmental impacts of the proposed project. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9.1. The cost of these studies must not exceed the lesser of $100,000 or .1% of the estimated cost of the proposed facility located within the requesting city or town. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9.1.

8-RI-a.41 to 8-RI-a.45 – Motion Requesting Board Ruling on the Necessity of Studies (Optional)

A developer may request a Board ruling to determine whether requested studies are necessary and “reasonably expected to produce relevant information.” If the developer thinks the requested studies are unnecessary or redundant, the developer may file a motion with the Board to rule on the issue. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9.1. The Board conducts a hearing considering whether the requested studies are reasonable and bases it’s ruling on the arguments, evidence, and testimony presented by the parties. If the Board determines that the studies are necessary then the developer must provide the funds. The Board’s final determination on the necessity of a requested study is final and is not subject to appeal. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9.1.

8-RI-a.46 to 8-RI-a.50 – Does the Project Require a Full Review?

If the Board does not expect that the Application will require a full review, then the Board must initiate a public hearing process to provide an opportunity for public comment on the Application. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9.1.

The Board must provide, or require a party to provide, notice of the scheduled hearing to all parties. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.8.

Generally, notice must be made by first class mail or personal service and published in a local newspaper of general circulation in the area where the proposed facility is located. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.8(b). Sufficient notice is mailed or delivered to each party at the address designated on the Application. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.8(e).

Proper notice must include:

  • Statement of the time, place, and nature of the hearing;
  • Statement of the legal authority under which the hearing is held;
  • Reference to the rules and statutes implicated; and
  • Statement of the matters involved tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.8(c).

Note: The Board may alter notice requirements at its discretion.

The developer must provide notice to the citizens of impacted towns and cities through publication in local newspapers 30 days prior to public hearings on the Application. The applicant (developer) must also provide notice by certified mail, to abutting landowners individually within 30 days prior to the public hearings. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9.1.

8-RI-a.51 to 8-RI-a.53 – Provide Notice of Preliminary Hearing

If the Board determines that the Project requires a full review, then the Board will initiate a formal preliminary hearing process and provide an opportunity for public comment on the Application at the public preliminary hearing. The Board must provide public notice of the formal preliminary hearing within 15 days of the Coordinator assigning the Application a docket number. The Board must provide the parties with notice at least 45 days prior to the beginning of the formal preliminary hearing. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.9.

The Board must hold a preliminary hearing on the Application to determine the issues the Board should consider in evaluating the Application. During the preliminary hearing, the Board also determines which agencies are to give advisory opinions on the Application to assist the Board in evaluating the Application. The Board assesses which aspects of the Application are under the direct control of the DEM andCRMC. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.9(a).

The public may comment prior to or during the preliminary hearing. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.6(f). Formal preliminary hearings must begin within 60 days from the date the Board docketed the Application, but not less than 45 days after issuance of public notice. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9.

8-RI-a.54 to 8-RI-a.55 – Review Application for Approval

The Board must issue a preliminary decision on the Application within 30 days following the conclusion of the preliminary hearing and within 45 days of the commencement of the preliminary hearing. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9; tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.9(e).

In the Board’s preliminary decision on the Application, the Board must:

  • Identify mandatory issues (those issues of law the Board must consider in its final hearing on the Application);
  • Identify discretionary issues (those issues the Board may consider in its final hearing on the Application);
  • Identify of all licenses the developer must obtain from the DEM and CRMC; and
  • Designate each agency that must provide an advisory opinion on the Application and identify a timeline for submission of agency advisory opinions.

tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.9.

8-RI-a.56 – Provide Notice of the Preliminary Decision on the Application

The Coordinator must provide a certified copy on the preliminary decision to the developer, to all parties to the preliminary hearing, all designated agencies, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Assistance, and any other person designated by the Board. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.9.

8-RI-a.57 to 8-RI-a.58 – Does the Board Grant the Expedited Final Hearing?

If the developer requested an expedited final hearing for a project that involves the construction of transmission lines only, the Board assesses the merits of the motions and arguments presented by the developer to determine whether to grant the expedited final hearing. If the Board grants the request for an expedited final hearing, it must provide all parties with notice of the expedited final hearing. All parties and parties seeking to intervene must file written comments on the draft preliminary order not less than ten (10) days before the expedited final hearing. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.9(h). If the Board denies the request for a preliminary hearing, the developer should proceed under the formal preliminary hearing process.

8-RI-a.59 to 8-RI-a.60 – Direct Applicable State Agencies to Render Advisory Opinions

In determining whether to approve an Application, the Board seeks advisory opinions from the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (RIPUC), the Rhode Island Department of Administration, and other applicable state agencies to assess whether the proposed project is in compliance with agency rules and regulations. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9. The RIPUC assesses the public need for the proposed project. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9. The Rhode Island Department of Administration assesses the socioeconomic impact of the proposed facility and its consistency with the state guide plan. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9.

Each agency must issue its advisory opinion no more than six (6) months following the Board’s request for an advisory opinion or any lesser time that the Board requires. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-10. Advisory opinions offered by state agencies are not subject to judicial review. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-10.

If the developer fails to provide information requested by an agency in its formulation of an advisory opinion, the agency may consider this failure as grounds for recommending denial. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-10.

8-RI-a.61 – Publish Notice of the Final Hearing on the Application

The Board must publish public notice of a final hearing on the Application within 15 days of the advisory opinion submission date and provide notice to the parties 30 days prior to the final hearing. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.12(b); tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-11; tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.8(d).

8-RI-a.62 – File Testimony, Written Comments, and Hearing Documents

Parties to the final hearing must file all direct testimony in writing and copies of all documents to be introduced at the final hearing with the Coordinator no later than ten (10) days before the date of the final hearing. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.12(c).

8-RI-a.63 – Hold Final or Expedited Hearing on the Application

The Board must hold a final or expedited hearing on the Application within 45 days after the final date for submission of agency advisory opinions that lasts no more than 60 days. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-11; tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-11. The purpose of the final hearing is not to hear evidence, but to provide the developer, intervenors, and the public the opportunity to address the issues reviewed and agency recommendations made in a single forum. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-11.

8-RI-a.64 to 8-RI-a.65 – Review Application for Approval

The Board must review the Application for approval. The Board may grant a License for the construction of an energy facility only upon finding that:

  • The proposed project is necessary to meet the energy needs of the state or region;
  • The proposed project is cost-justified and can be expected to produce energy at the lowest reasonable costs to consumers;
  • The proposed facility will not cause unacceptable harm to the environment. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-11.

The Board must issue its final decision no later than 120 days after the final hearing is initiated or no later than 60 days after the Board receives all direct testimony, whichever period is shorter. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.13(a); tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-11. The Board’s decision to grant or deny a License must explicitly address each of the advisory opinions provided by state agencies, and state the Board’s reasons for accepting, rejecting, or modifying any of those advisory opinions. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-11.

Public input is an integral part of the Application review process and the Board should consider public comments when making a decision on the Application. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-9.1.

8-RI-a.66 to 8-RI-a.68 – License to Construct and Alter Major Energy Facilities

The Board may modify, alter, or condition the terms the License to Construct of Facility at its discretion. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-11. The Board retains the final permitting authority for all state and local “permits, licensee, variances, or assents” required by any rule or regulation to construct the project. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-11; tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.14(a).

Within ten (10) days of granting a license, the Board must deliver the decision granting a license to the speaker of the State house of representatives and the President of the State senate. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-11.

The developer must also obtain any additional applicable state and local licenses required to construct the project. tit. 10 - ch.10 R.I. Code R. § 1.14(a).

8-RI-a.69 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

The Board’s determination on a Licensing Application is final for the purposes of regulatory review. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 98-12.

Any person aggrieved by a Board decision may within seven (7) days from the date of the decision, petition the supreme court for a writ of certiorari to review the decision. The writ of certiorari must state specific claims of the decision’s illegality or unreasonableness. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-1. Once a writ of certiorari is filed, the Rhode Island supreme court will issue a writ to the Board requiring the Board to provide the court with a transcript of the evidence, complete record of the hearing, and a copy of the decision within 30 days. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-2. The supreme court may reverse, affirm, or remand a Board decision. tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-4. The supreme court will not reverse a Board decision made as an exercise of administrative discretion unless the Board “exceeded its authority or acted illegally, arbitrarily, or unreasonably.” tit. 42 R.I. Gen. Laws § 5-3.


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