RAPID/Geothermal/Hawaii/Power Plant

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Hawaii Geothermal Power Plant Siting, Construction, & Regulation(7-HI)

A geothermal developer could complete the geothermal power plant and deepwater cable system process to transmit geothermal energy from one island to another, complete the Renewable Energy Facility Siting process to help streamline geothermal power plant permitting, and may require a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for operation of the power plant.

Geothermal Power Plant and Deepwater Cable System

To construct a geothermal power plant and deepwater cable system to transmit the energy from one island to another, developers must obtain a Geothermal/Cable Development Consolidated Permit from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). The Consolidated Permit application process is regulated under H.A.R. 13-185. The Consolidated Permit application process requires notice and is subject to review by DLNR. If the developer seeks to reclassify lands in a conservation district, the developer must petition DLNR for a boundary amendment under H.R.S. 205-3.1 and have the zoning modified under H.R.S. 205-5. Prior to completing the Consolidated Permit process the developer must complete the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act (HEPA) environmental review process for the proposed activities. To date, the Geothermal and Cable System Development permitting process has never been used.

Renewable Energy Facility Siting Process

To construct a geothermal power plant through a streamlined permitting process, developers must follow the Renewable Energy Facility Siting Process through the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT). The process is regulated under H.R.S. 201N and H.A.R. 15-36. The streamlined process allows proposed facilities qualifying for the process, including all renewable energy facilities over 200 MW and certain renewable energy facilities over 5 MW, to complete the state and county permitting process within 12 months. Prior to the completion of the permit plan, the developer must have completed the state environmental review process. The process involves a pre-application meeting and development of permit plan, submission of the permit plan to and approval by DBEDT, notice, establishing a permitting timeline, agency review, and developer acceptance of final permit plan.

Certificate of Public Convenience or Necessity

To provide, sell, or transmit power to the public as a public utility, a power plant developer must obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Hawaii PUC. The application process is regulated under H.R.S. 269-7.5. The CPCN process involves required notice to ratepayers and is subject to approval by the Hawaii PUC.

Hawaii Environmental Policy Act Process

All projects must follow the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act (HEPA) environmental review that propose to use state or county lands or funds, or lands within conservation districts, shoreline areas, historic sites, in the Waikiki Special District or proposing a power generating facility.

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Hawaii Federal

Power Plant Siting: To construct a geothermal power plant and deepwater cable system to transmit the energy from one island to another, developers must obtain a Geothermal/Cable Development Consolidated Permit from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). Utilization Application Process
Power Plant Siting Agency: Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Bureau of Land Management
Power Plant Siting MW Threshold: None
Definition for Public Utility: Hawaii defines "public utility" in Hawaii Revised Statues 269-1 to include every person who may own, control, operate, or manage…any plant or equipment, or any part thereof, directly or indirectly for public use…for production, conveyance, transmission, delivery, or furnishing of light, power, heat, cold, water, gar, or oil. However, the definition of public utility does not include any user, owner, or operator of the Hawaii Electric System. Hawaii Revised Statutes 269-141 defines "User, owner, or operator of the Hawaii electric system" as any person, business, organization, or other entity who:
(1) Owns, controls, operates, or manages plants or facilities for the generation, transmission, or furnishing of electricity; and
(2) Provides, sells, or transmits all of that electricity, except such electricity as is used in its own internal operations or is used for its own consumption, directly to a public utility for either transmission or distribution to the public.
Coordinating Permit Offices: Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism;
Coordinating Permit Process: To construct a geothermal power plant through a streamlined permitting process, developers must follow the Renewable Energy Facility Siting Process through the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT). The process is regulated under H.R.S. 201N and H.A.R. 15-36.
Coordinating Permit Offices MW Threshold: The streamlined process allows proposed facilities qualifying for the process, including all renewable energy facilities over 200 MW and certain renewable energy facilities over 5 MW.
Coordinating Permit Offices Agency: Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism
Coordinating Agencies: The Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) will coordinate all state and local agencies from which a permit is required. In addition, DBEDT will assist where possible in obtaining federal permits.
Public Utility Regulatory Authority: Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Public Utility Regulatory Authority Certification MW Threshold: None
Public Utility Definition for Power Generator: Hawaii defines "public utility" in Hawaii Revised Statues 269-1 to include every person who may own, control, operate, or manage…any plant or equipment, or any part thereof, directly or indirectly for public use…for production, conveyance, transmission, delivery, or furnishing of light, power, heat, cold, water, gar, or oil. However, the definition of public utility does not include any user, owner, or operator of the Hawaii Electric System. Hawaii Revised Statutes 269-141 defines "User, owner, or operator of the Hawaii electric system" as any person, business, organization, or other entity who:
(1) Owns, controls, operates, or manages plants or facilities for the generation, transmission, or furnishing of electricity; and
(2) Provides, sells, or transmits all of that electricity, except such electricity as is used in its own internal operations or is used for its own consumption, directly to a public utility for either transmission or distribution to the public.

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