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RAPIDRegulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Hawaii Transmission Siting (8-HI-a)

A utility permit or approval is required for all transmission construction, reconstruction and maintenance activities. Transmission lines are added when needed to serve increased loads and for reliability reasons. At the state level utility permits are issued by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The process of acquiring permits can be contentious, time consuming and costly. In almost all cases, developers siting transmission lines are classified as public utilities. Public utility is defined, in part, as “…every person who may own, control, operate or manage as owner, lessee, trustee, receiver or otherwise, whether under a franchise, charter, license, articles of association, or otherwise, any plant or equipment, or any part thereof, directly or indirectly for public use for…the transmission of intelligence by electricity…or transmission…of light, power, heat (or) cold. H.R.S. 269-1(1).

Transmission Siting Process

8-HI-a.1 to 8-HI-a.2 – Contact the PUC to Determine Permitting Requirements

Permitting processes and requirements are dynamic in Hawaii. Applicants should contact the PUC to ensure that they are using the most current application and associated documents and conforming to the most up-to-date procedures.

8-HI-a.3 – Does the Proposed Project Require a Public Hearing?

Whenever a developer plans to place a new high voltage electric transmission system, of 46 kV or more, above the surface of the ground through any residential area, the PUC must conduct a public hearing before it approves the project. H.R.S. 269-27.5.

8-HI-a.4 to 8-HI-a.7 – Provide Notice of Public Hearing

The developer must provide notice of the hearing on the island or islands on which the developer will construct the project. Notice must be given at least once in each of three weeks, the first notice being not less than twenty-one days before the hearing and the last being no more than two days before the hearing. The developer will report the fact and manner of the notification to the PUC before the hearing. H.R.S. 269-12(c). Members of the public may present testimony at the hearing as to the proposed project. H.R.S. 269-16(b).

8-HI-a.8 to 8-HI-a.9 - Does the PUC Rule in Favor of the Developer?

The PUC will make its ruling at the public hearing or announce at the hearing when it intends to make its decision. H.R.S. 91-3. If the PUC rules in favor of the developer, authorization for the project must be granted by the PUC.

8-HI-a.10 to 8-HI-a.13 – Does the Developer Choose to Proceed to a Contested Case Hearing?

If the PUC issues a ruling against the developer at, or following, the public hearing, the developer will have the right to present its case in a contested case hearing before the PUC. At the contested case hearing, all parties will be provided with the opportunity to be heard after reasonable notice. H.R.S. 91-9(a). The notice must include a statement of:

  • The date, time, place, and nature of the hearing;
  • The legal authority under which the hearing is to be held;
  • The particular sections of the statutes and rules involved;
  • The issues involved and the facts alleged; and
  • The fact that any party may retain counsel or appear on their own behalf. H.R.S. 91-9(b).

At the contested case hearing all parties will be afforded the opportunity to present evidence and argument on all issues involved. H.R.S. 91-9(c). The PUC will issue a final ruling at the contested case hearing, exhausting all administrative remedies.

8-HI-a.14 to 8-HI-a.19 – Does Developer Choose to Appeal?

If the PUC issues a ruling against the developer at the contested case hearing, the developer may file a Notice of Appeal to the circuit court. Hawaii Rules of Appellate Procedure – Form 3 and H.R.S. 91-14(b). The notice must:

  • Identify the parties to the appeal; and
  • Identify the judgment from which the developer is appealing.

A copy of the judgment must be included with the Notice of Appeal as an exhibit. Hawaii Rules of Appellate Procedure Rule 3(c). The developer must serve the Notice of Appeal on all parties to the action. If the circuit court rules in favor of the developer, authorization for the project must be granted.

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