Description: Challenge to the approval of a new underground electrical transmission line running between substations in Massachusetts.
Town of Sudbury v. Energy Facilities Siting Board
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/25/2021 Opinion Download Energy Facilities Siting Board order affirmed. Massachusetts High Court Upheld Transmission Line Approval. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the Energy Facilities Siting Board’s approval of a proposal for a new underground electrical transmission line running between substations in the Towns of Sudbury and Hudson. The court noted that the Board was required to balance three objectives—reliability, environmental impact, and cost—by maximizing reliability and minimizing environmental impact and cost; that a proposal was not required to “be the best in each of the three categories”; and that the factors were to be “considered in combination with each other,” with no single factor prioritized over another. In this case, the court found no basis for disturbing the Board’s determinations, given the Board’s “careful and reasoned decision.” Citing the importance of a reliable electrical system, the court rejected arguments by the Town of Sudbury that the Board’s determination regarding the need for additional energy resources was too conservative. The court also rejected the Town’s argument that the project was not consistent with current health, environmental protection, and resource use and development policies in Massachusetts. The court noted that the Board had determined that the project was consistent with the Commonwealth’s environmental protection policies, including the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, because the project would generate minimal greenhouse gases and have no adverse climate change impacts and would facilitate integration of renewable energy resources by increasing the transmission system’s reliability. Although the Town argued that a non-transmission alternative solution would have been more consistent with more recent policies, including climate and environmental policies, the court found that the Town did not provide a basis for reversing the Board’s assessment.