House Bill 5453 (File No. 461) introduces significant changes to the Connecticut Siting Council's composition and procedures. The bill revises the council's membership to include the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection or their designee, the chairperson of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority or their designee, designees from the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate, five public members appointed by the Governor with expertise in ecology and engineering, and four ad hoc members from affected municipalities. It limits affiliations with utilities or regulatory agencies among these members and updates compensation arrangements. The bill also modifies the council's duties, including the adoption of regulations and the appointment of an executive director, and requires consultation with various departments before hearings. It repeals and replaces sections of the general statutes to outline a new application process for certification proceedings, including filing and municipal participation fees, and adds requirements for detailed descriptions, environmental impact assessments, and analyses of electromagnetic fields.

The bill further amends the standards for council decisions on certificate applications, introducing a "clear and convincing" evidence standard and expanding the required findings to include aesthetic and economic impacts. It adds new criteria for the approval of electric transmission lines, emphasizing cost-effectiveness and reasonable cost distribution among ratepayers. The bill also addresses the location of transmission lines to minimize hazards, sets conditions for the approval of solar facilities by municipal chief executives, and revises the process for public service companies intending to acquire residential property by condemnation, including specific notice requirements to property owners. The effective dates for these changes are set for October 1, 2024, and the bill specifies the Siting Council's incurred costs due to the addition of ad hoc members. Language adjustments have been made for clarity and consistency, as noted by the Legislative Commissioners.

Statutes affected:
Raised Bill: 16-50j, 16-50l, 16-50p, 16-50s
GAE Joint Favorable: 16-50j, 16-50l, 16-50p, 16-50s
File No. 461: 16-50j, 16-50l, 16-50p, 16-50s