SECTION 1. Chapter 25 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting at the end thereof the following new section:-
The department of public utilities shall promulgate rules and regulations requiring transmission companies to file and the department to approve vegetation management plans. Said plans shall also be filed with any affected municipality. Said plans shall include landscape management provisions which require the use of native species plants and shall consider local terrain including soil conditions and visual impacts. Prior to department approval, affected municipalities shall have 30 days to comment on said plans.
Municipalities may file a complaint with the department if the transmission company does not comply with the terms of vegetation management plan.
Vegetation management plans shall be reviewed every four years and prior to approval the department shall hold a public hearing in the affected local municipality.
Transmission companies shall provide sixty days notice to affected abutters of the transmission lines, and said department, of actions to be performed pursuant to the vegetation management plan approved pursuant to this section. This notice shall also be sent to municipal officials of affected communities including but not limited to elected officials, selectmen, planning board members, and conservation commission members. Transmission companies shall be exempt from the requirements of this paragraph in preparation for an imminent emergency event, but must inform municipal administrations of any eminent work.
In the course of maintaining reliability of power along transmission line right of ways, including easements covering private and public property, each transmission company shall restore deleteriously affected vegetation in the form of replanting of trees and other vegetation and shall complete stump grindings wherever trees have been cut to the stump such that the company partially restores the pre-vegetation management activity property value of affected property owners. This paragraph shall apply only to activity that has occurred after January 1, 2012 and prior to January 1, 2014 or the approval of a company’s first vegetation management plan filed in accordance with this section.
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