Participation in Department of Public Utility - Siting Division Cases
Siting Division staff is available to answer any general questions you may have regarding participation in Department of Public Utilities proceedings heard by the Siting Division. The Department encourages the public to express concerns and opinions. Interested parties have several opportunities to become involved in proceedings before the Department:
A Siting Division case begins when an applicant files a petition under the relevant statute. The applicant is then instructed to distribute a Public Notice via the following methods:
- Publish a notice of its proposal to construct the project in at least two newspapers having a reasonable level of circulation within the community or region prior to the Public Hearing;
- Mail notice to owners of all property within a certain distance of the boundaries of the proposed site; and
- Post the notice in the city or town halls of communities in which the proposed project would be located.
After the notice has been published, the Siting Division conducts one or more public hearings, generally in the city or town where the facility is proposed. The public hearing, held in the evening, provides those who attend with an opportunity to learn about the proposed project and its potential environmental impacts. It also allows Staff to learn about the public's concerns. At the public hearing, the applicant presents an overview of the proposed facility. Public officials and the public then have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments about the proposal. The public hearing is recorded by a court reporter.
Seeking the Right to Take Part in a Proceeding
Persons or groups who wish to be involved in a Siting Division proceeding beyond providing public comments at the hearing may seek either to intervene as a party, or to participate as a limited participant. Intervention as a party is a more formal route of participation (compared to participating in the process as a limited participant) which presents one with an opportunity for extended involvement in the evidentiary proceeding and the right to appeal a final decision. The following is a comparison between the roles of intervenor and limited participant in Siting Division proceedings:
An Intervenor may:
- Issue information requests and receive responses;
- Present written testimony and witnesses;
- Cross-examine witnesses;
- File a brief; and
- Appeal a Final Decision.
A Limited Participant may:
- Receive copies of information requests and testimony in a proceeding;
- Receive copies of responses to information requests; and
- File a brief.
All participants are strongly encouraged to give thoughtful consideration to the method of participation they pursue. You are urged to consult an attorney to best evaluate your legal rights in a proceeding. Persons seeking to intervene as a party or participate as a limited participant should consult the regulations governing intervention and participation in Siting Division proceedings- 220 CMR 1.03 ; see also G.L. c. 30A, § 10. A person seeking intervenor party or limited participant status must file a petition with the Hearing Officer assigned to the case. In order to intervene as a party, a petitioner must demonstrate that he or she is, or may be, "substantially and specifically affected" by the proceeding. The issues raised in the petition to intervene must be specific to the potential intervenor and must fall within the scope of the Department's purview.
There are instances when a single project can consist of several cases with both Department and Energy Facilities Siting Board ("Siting Board") jurisdictions. In most of these instances, the Chairman of the Department issues a Consolidation Order pursuant to G. L. c. 25, § 4, which directs the Siting Board to render a Decision in all related cases after conducting a single adjudicatory proceeding and developing a single evidentiary record. When cases are consolidated, Siting Board rules apply to the proceeding. 980 CMR 1.00 et seq.
This information is provided by the Department of Public Utilities