On April 16, 2021, the Department of Public Utilities (“Department”) opened an inquiry to examine procedural enhancements to its public notice requirements to increase public awareness of and participation in Department proceedings. Specifically, the Department will explore avenues to increase the visibility of its public notices and improve public and stakeholder involvement in its proceedings. Additionally, the Department recognizes the importance of ensuring that persons with limited English proficiency are provided with the opportunity to participate in Department proceedings, as needed, in a manner consistent with those who are proficient in English. Moreover, this proceeding (D.P.U. 21-50) will help guide the Department in the development and implementation of its Environmental Justice Strategy.
On July 1, 2021, the Energy Facilities Siting Board (“Siting Board”) opened a companion proceeding to examine procedural enhancements to its public notice requirements to increase public awareness of and participation in Siting Board proceedings, docketed as EFSB 21-01.1
In these proceedings and Orders, the Department and the Siting Board solicited written comments on questions designed to assist our next steps in enhancing public participation and involvement, and stated that each agency would determine the appropriate next steps for its proceeding after reviewing initial comments. The Department and the Siting Board have received and reviewed those comments and have determined that the appropriate next step is to hold a stakeholder roundtable to gather further input. The roundtable will be conducted with stakeholders to gain further insight into the three topics described below. Generally, for each topic, one or more speakers will share their perspectives on the topic to commence the discussion. The Department and Siting Board may then ask follow-up questions before opening the discussion to all participants.
The agenda for the roundtable will consist of the following discussion points:
- First topic: Improved communication with customers, community-based organizations and local government officials to maximize public engagement in our proceedings. This topic may include the following:
- Identify the physical or electronic platforms most likely to reach diverse populations in the Commonwealth.
- Discuss how the Department and the Siting Board can effectively use social media platforms to publish or disseminate notices of filings and public hearings (“Notices”).2
- Discuss the possibility of having Notices posted on municipal, distribution company, or siting applicant social media pages and websites.
- Discuss alternative methods that the Department or the Siting Board could employ to maximize public involvement in the public comment and hearing process.
- Second topic: The most effective methods that Distribution Companies use currently to reach customers (e.g., Twitter, bill inserts, email, texts) and how that effectiveness is measured. Explain how each of these methods could be used to expand access to information related to Department or Siting Board proceedings or inform interested parties of how to participate in proceedings.
- Third topic: Whether all notices for agency proceedings should receive the same level of publication and outreach or whether there should be some prioritization or variation in approach to avoid overwhelming or desensitizing readers with frequent notices. If there should be variation, discuss the types of proceedings that warrant additional publication and outreach efforts.
The Department and the Siting Board will conduct the roundtable using Zoom videoconferencing on one (or more, if necessary) of the following three days, beginning at 10:00 a.m.: August 24, 25, 26, 2022. Attendees will be able to join from a computer, smartphone, or tablet. No prior software download is required. The Department and the Siting Board will provide further logistical details on attending once we have decided on the specific date for the roundtable. In addition, materials related to the proceedings will be posted on the Department’s website at https://eeaonline.eea.state.ma.us/DPU/Fileroom/dockets/bynumber/21-50 and https://eeaonline.eea.state.ma.us/DPU/Fileroom/dockets/bynumber/EFSB21-01.
For further information regarding this memorandum or to request addition to or removal from the electronic distribution list, please contact Hearing Officer Laurie Ellen Weisman at email@example.com, Hearing Officer Scott Seigal at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Presiding Officer Donna Sharkey at email@example.com. You may also leave a voice message with your name and phone number at (617) 305-3690 (Department’s Legal Division) or (617) 305-3525 (Siting Board).
|Date published:||July 19, 2022|