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Selected energy and planning legislation from the second session (2010) of the 161st General Court.

Energy | Planning

Energy

HB1227 - relative to laying pipes for pressurized hot water transmission and distribution
Chapter Law 49
Effective July 17, 2010

The intent of this bill is to enable municipalities to pursue district heating opportunities through the transmission of pressurized hot water pipes.

HB1270 - relative to balancing amounts expended from the renewable energy fund
Chapter Law 254
Effective July 6, 2010164

This bill requires the public utilities commission to reasonably balance over a two year period of time the overall amount of the renewable energy fund between residential and nonresidential sectors. The bill requires that no more than 40% of the funds be used for residential efforts, with the remainder available for nonresidential sector. It further allows the public utilities commission to issue funds from the renewable energy fund through rebates and competitive request for proposals for projects sited in New Hampshire. The public utilities commission is directed to issue a request for proposal by March 1, 2011.

HB1353 - relative to group net metering
Chapter Law 143
Effective August 13, 2010

This bill requires the public utilities commission to issue new rules on net metering that allow for the interconnection of renewable energy systems up to 1 megawatt nameplate capacity. It also adjusts the amount of total capacity to be fed into the grid to 50 megawatts. Systems that are under 100 kilowatts, are allowed to receive a full credit that includes distribution and transmission costs, while systems over 100 kilowatts are allowed to receive a credit for only the electricity provided. In both instances, rules shall be created to allow for customers to choose to be credited or paid for the appropriate excess electricity supplied to the grid. Lastly it clarifies that for the purposes of municipal regulation of small wind energy systems, these systems shall be rated at under 100 kilowatt capacity.

HB1377 - enabling utilities to establish loan programs for renewable energy and efficiency projects
Chapter Law 229

Section 3-7 Effective June 28, 2010
Remainder Effective August 27, 2010

This bill permits utilities to establish loan programs for owners of residential and business property engaging in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. This bill also establishes a committee to study methods of encouraging the installation and use of small scale renewable energy resources by homeowners and businesses.

HB1554 - relative to municipal energy efficiency and clean energy districts
Chapter Law 215
Effective August 27, 2010

This bill enables municipalities to create property access clean energy (PACE) districts and to raise capital through bonding and other sources for such purposes. PACE districts enable building owners to loan money through the municipality to make energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. Loans are repaid through an additional assessment on a municipal bill and the loans are transferable to future property owners. The bill includes a number of safeguards to mitigate potential risks to lenders.

HB1688 - relative to the regulation of the installation and operation of boiler and pressure vessels
Chapter Law 326

Effective September 18, 2010

This bill requires the State Building Code Review Board to adopt certain code requirements concerning biomass burning boilers which are inspected and subject to enforcement by the department of labor. The codes adopted shall include the 1999 EN 303-5 standard established by the European Committee for Standardization. These codes would allow for boilers built in Europe and meeting European safety standards to be installed in New Hampshire.

SB073 - requiring the state government to reduce energy consumption in state buildings, to develop an energy conservation plan, and to make an annual report on the state's energy consumption
Chapter Law 328
Effective July 20, 2010

This bill requires the state government to reduce energy consumption in state-owned buildings on a square foot basis with a goal of reducing fossil fuel energy consumption by 25 percent by 2025 to complement the state goal of obtaining 25 percent of the state's energy use from renewable energy by 2025. Each department is required to submit data and recommendations to the commissioner of administrative services on its compliance with this reduction goal. The commissioner of administrative services shall annually submit a report on the state's energy consumption reduction efforts and, with the assistance of the department of environmental services and the office of energy and planning, shall develop an energy conservation plan to work towards this energy reduction goal, both of which will be submitted to the energy efficiency and sustainable energy board, the governor, and the legislature.

SB300 - relative to the system benefits charge
Chapter Law 1
Effective January 14, 2010

This bill makes an adjustment to the system benefits charge to temporarily increase the funding for the electric assistance program for low-income customers, while temporarily decreasing the funding for energy efficiency programs.

SB323 - requiring the public utilities commission to study certain energy policy issues
Chapter Law 335
Effective July 20, 2010

This bill requires the public utilities commission to contract for an independent study to conduct a comprehensive review and analysis of the effectiveness and efficiency of the deliver of New Hampshire's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. The public utilities commission shall work in cooperation and close consultation with the energy efficiency and sustainable energy board in choosing an independent consultant and managing the development of the study.

SB327 - relative to disclosure of electric service energy sources and environmental characteristics and relative to disciplinary actions against competitive electric suppliers
Chapter Law 336
Effective October 18, 2010

This bill establishes requirements for disclosure of electric service energy sources and environmental characteristics to customers by providers of electricity. The bill also expands the authority of the public utilities commission to take disciplinary actions for violations by competitive electric suppliers.

back to topPlanning

HB450 - relative to the state 10-year transportation improvement program
Chapter Law 2
Effective April 2, 2010

The stated legislative intent of House Bill 450 is to create a set of guidelines for transportation improvement projects over the next ten years. With the exception of infrastructure preservation projects, those included in the plan are to be prioritized based on their "scope, cost, constructability, permitibility, and public support." All projects are required to go through preliminary design, environmental evaluation, a public participation process, and have available adequate funding. Important considerations for all projects include safety, multi-modalism, land use, infrastructure preservation and overall corridor improvement. The bill also includes procedural details for implementation of the ten-year plan.

HB1174 - relative to terms for appointed town officials and relative to pay for members of park or recreation commissions
Chapter Law 226
Effective August 27, 2010

Instituting existing common practice, an appointed official's term continues until a successor is appointed. This applies to terms of office established under RSA 41 (town officers), RSA 49-C:20 (city clerk, heath officer, and other officers appointed to administer departments established by the elected body), and RSA 673:5 (local land use board members). While local land use board members' terms are limited to three years, the new statutory language states that if a successor has yet to be appointed and qualified at the end of the appointed member's term, the member may remain in office until such time.

Secondly, the definition of a "local land use board" (RSA 672:7) has been expanded to include all boards or commissions established under RSA 673. Previously, local land use boards included the planning board, historic district commission, building inspector, building code board of appeals, and the zoning board. The expanded definition now includes heritage, agricultural, and housing commissions.

HB1211 - relative to special meetings in towns with official ballot town meetings
Chapter Law 69
Effective July 18, 2010

Simply put, if the sole purpose of a special town meeting in an official ballot (or "SB2") town is to adopt, amend or repeal a zoning ordinance, historic district ordinance or a building code then, the meeting only needs to consist of one session for voting by official ballot. A deliberative session is not required to consider a zoning change in this particular situation. However, this does not apply to special town meetings to consider the adoption of an emergency temporary zoning and planning ordinance pursuant to RSA 675:4-a.

HB1380 - relative to assessing fees by zoning boards of adjustment
Chapter Law 303
Effective September 11, 2010

Similar to Planning Board's existing authority under RSA 676:4-b, this bill authorizes zoning boards to charge applicants "reasonable fees" to cover the costs of special investigative studies, administrative expenses, and third party review and consultation related to application reviews or appeals. The zoning board must document all third party review expenses and provide detailed accounting of all expenditures, upon request, to the applicant. Given the possibility that redundant studies may be requested of the same applicant, both zoning and planning boards are limited to assessing fees where it will not "substantially replicate a review and consultation obtained by" the other board. This caveat was instituted within the newly created zoning statute (RSA 676:5,V(a)) and an amendment to the planning board's RSA 676:4-b.

HB1395 - relative to workforce housing
Chapter Law 150
Effective June 14, 2010

Following the enaction of 2008's SB342 many boards asked whether it was only after appeal of a workforce housing application that "assurances" of long-term affordability could be instituted or could such restrictions be placed on approved applications? This bill clarifies this question and authorizes municipalities to require workforce housing applicants to record restrictive covenants limiting the sale, re-sale or rental of units to households whose income meets the limits of RSA 674:58,IV. The municipality's regulations must specify the term for such covenants and may also include monitoring requirements.

HB1462 - establishing a shoreland advisory committee
Chapter Law 306
Section 2 Effective 12/31/2013; Remainder Effective 7/13/2010

The 20-member shoreland advisory committee was established to provide residential shorefront owner input and perspective to the Department of Environmental Services relating to shoreland development regulated under the comprehensive shoreland protection act. Ten members are to be shoreland property owners, appointed by the Governor, representing various lake, river and tidal water bodies. The other 10 members, to be appointed by the DES commissioner, are to represent various organizations and agencies including one to be from either a regional planning commission or the Office of Energy and Planning. The advisory committee is to sunset on December 31, 2013.

HB1486 - prohibiting the mandating of fire sprinkler systems in certain dwellings and establishing a committee to study municipal residential fire sprinkler requirements
Chapter Law 282
Effective July 9, 2010

This bill, as stated in its title, prohibits the state or municipalities from mandating sprinkler systems in one or two family detached residential structures. However, any existing municipal ordinances requiring sprinklers adopted prior to July 9, 2010 are unaffected. Also, sprinkler systems can still be required by a planning board for subdivision or site plan applications that are found to be "scattered and premature" given their lack of adequate fire protection. A committee is established to study existing municipal residential fire sprinkler requirements and whether the interests of safety justify authorizing municipalities to adopt sprinkler requirements for residential structures in the future.

SB59 - relative to the renovation and replacement of school buildings
Chapter Law 327
Effective September 18, 2010

A hold over from the 2009 legislative session, this bill works to coordinate school siting policies with state and municipal smart growth and land use policies. School districts are now required to investigate feasible options when deciding to replace or renovate an existing school building. During the decision making process, school districts are required to hold at least one public hearing, seek input from municipal boards and departments, and must review the local master plan and zoning ordinances so as to maximize best planning practices. Additionally, state building aid grants cannot require the acquisition of additional land as part of a school renovation project unless it is necessary to ensure the safe flow of traffic on school grounds or the safe boarding or discharge of children using busses or other vehicles. Lastly, plans for school construction or renovation are required to comply with effective statewide planning and the state's smart growth principles (RSA 9-B).

SB128 - relative to the community revitalization tax relief incentive, and clarifying the authority of towns to respond appropriately to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and similar acts
Chapter Law 329
Effective July 20, 2010

For those communities who were reluctant to utilize the economic development incentives enabled by RSA 79-E because, as established, the program did not directly align with local goals and priorities, this bill will allow cities and towns to modify certain requirements of the act to meet specific local needs. Municipalities will now have the ability to further limit what constitutes a "qualifying structure" so to better target locations identified for redevelopment. Additionally, municipalities may set a higher threshold for "substantial rehabilitation" to ensure greater investment in the project. Both opportunities for municipalities come with the stipulation that the statutory definition may be limited in order to be more "consistent with local economic conditions, community character, and local planning and development goals." Additionally added are provisions enabling municipalities to establish guidelines to determine the appropriate tax relief period and further define the public benefit expectations used to evaluate applications.

SB328 - relative to approval procedures on plats
Chapter Law 39
Effective July 17, 2010

This bill establishes that the receipt of permits or approvals from other "governmental bodies" (municipal, state, or federal) cannot be a factor in determining the completeness of an application. In other words, planning boards are prohibited from considering an application as incomplete solely because it has yet to receive other permits or approvals. However, a planning board may require state and federal permits as a condition of approval, where the approval becomes final, without further public hearing, once the applicant submits evidence of the required approvals to the board or its designee.

SB369 - relative to the effect of changes in local permit status on large groundwater withdrawal permits issued by the department of environmental services
Chapter Law 158
Effective July 17, 2010

Municipalities are permitted to require a written finding from the Department of Environmental Services regarding the status of a large groundwater withdrawal permit when a local building permit expires. Additionally, DES is required to consider the impact the local permit expiration may have on its decision on the groundwater withdrawal application.

SB370 - relative to sewage disposal systems
Chapter Law 342
Effective September 18, 2010

Through amendments to RSA 485-A:38, subsurface septic systems approvals will not be required for the expansion, relocation or replacement of any structure provided the project will not increase the load on a sewage disposal system. Conditions to the exemption include:

  • Operational approval must have been obtained for the existing on site sewage system within the last 20 years,
  • If for a non-residential structure, no waivers were granted for the construction or operation approval, and
  • If applicable, the project conforms to the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act.

SB406 - relative to merger of lots or parcels
Chapter Law 345
Effective September 18, 2010

Previously, state statutes (RSA 674:39-a) only spoke to the process for voluntary mergers and remained silent in regard to the involuntary merger of lots or parcels. Senate Bill 406 builds on to RSA 674:39-a to preclude governmental entities from merging "preexisting subdivided lots or parcels" without the owner's consent. This new statutory language will invalidate current and common zoning ordinance provisions that require the automatic merger of two adjacent non-conforming lots or parcels with a single owner. See the NH Municipal Association's Final Legislative Bulletin for further thoughts on the limits of the new provision.

SB411 - relative to permitting of large groundwater withdrawals
Chapter Law 348
Effective September 18, 2010

This bill clarifies that only the state has the authority to permit large groundwater withdrawals. That said, large groundwater withdrawal decisions made by the Department of Environmental Services do not change or affect the applicant's obligation to comply with local ordinances, codes, regulations, and required approvals. Additionally, the bill provides exemptions from the requirements for large groundwater withdrawals for emergency purposes and for certain geothermal processes.

SB448 - relative to alternate members of land use boards
Chapter Law 270
Effective July 6, 2010

Under the existing statutes, many municipalities questioned whether alternates are permitted to sit at the table or participate in meetings. Practices and legal opinions varied from community to community. Additionally, many felt for alternates to be best prepared to serve when called-up or to fill future vacancies they needed to participate in meetings on a regular basis. This bill allows alternate members of land use boards to participate in meetings of the board as a non-voting member. Boards are required to establish procedural rules to set the details of how and when the alternate may participate. For example, rules may specify that alternates participate during master plan or other work sessions; during hearings but not board deliberations that lead to a vote; etc.

SB515 - relative to allowing the commissioner of the department of employment security to participate in a joint local employment dynamics program with the United States Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Chapter Law 120
Effective July 30, 2010

This bill allows the commissioner of the Department of Employment Security to participate in the joint local employment dynamics program with the United States Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This partnership involves the transfer of data collected by the department of employment security to the Census Bureau where it is analyzed in conjunction with other data sources to in turn provide "quarterly workforce indicators" - local data on employment, hiring, job creation, local economics, and earnings by industry, age and sex. Data produced through this program will be available to all and will provide a new and valuable data source for planners and others in the state.


NH Office of Energy and Planning
Governor Hugh J. Gallen State Office Park
Johnson Hall, 3rd Floor  |  107 Pleasant Street  |  Concord, NH 03301
(603) 271-2155  |  fax: (603) 271-2615