Using a trial-based approach to improve a project’s chances before state siting boards.
Barry Needleman is a partner in the environmental department at the McLane law firm, and Vincent Dick is senior v.p. and energy markets director of national consulting firm Haley and Aldrich.
In some states, obtaining approvals to construct or upgrade large energy projects often means engaging in a state siting board process. The jurisdiction of these siting boards can cover significant transmission line construction and upgrades, construction of new electric generation facilities, and large additions to existing facilities. Many boards employ some type of integrated, centralized review that can provide a substantial benefit to developers over piecemeal permitting, primarily through the consolidation and streamlining of multiple necessary approvals. Conversely, these proceedings also can create an array of challenges for applicants that they don’t normally encounter in a smaller, non-integrated permit process.
Sophisticated applicants recognize this dichotomy and understand that siting board matters are more like civil court trials than typical permit exercises. Regardless of whether a state uses a fully centralized or only partially centralized siting approach, applicants who embrace the trial paradigm and prepare themselves accordingly are much more likely to get their applications approved and upheld in the event they’re appealed.