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Hawaii Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (8-HI-c)

In Hawaii, a public utility must obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission prior to installing a high-voltage (120 kV or more) electric transmission line. H.R.S. § 269-7.5(a); H.R.S. § 269-132(a); H.R.S. § 269-132. A “public utility” includes “every person who may own, control, or manage…facilities for the production, conveyance, transmission, delivery, or furnishing of light, power, heat, cold, water, gas, or oil…” H.R.S. § 269-1.


Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Process

8-HI-c.1 to 8-HI-c.2 - Is the Proposed Transmission Line 120 kV or more?

In Hawaii, a public utility must obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (Certificate) from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) prior to installing a high-voltage electric transmission line. H.R.S. § 269-7.5(a); H.R.S. § 269-132(a).

A “public utility” includes “every person who may own, control, or manage…facilities for the production, conveyance, transmission, delivery, or furnishing of light, power, heat, cold, water, gas, or oil…” H.R.S. § 269-1.

A high-voltage electric transmission line “means 120 kilovolts (kV) or greater of alternating current or direct current transmission cables…” H.R.S. § 269-131.

If the proposed project is for an electric transmission line less than 120 kV a Certificate is not required, but approval from the HPUC is still likely required.

8-HI-c.3 – Contact the Hawaii Public Utility Commission (HPUC)

The developer should contact the HPUC to confirm that a Certificate is required for their project, that they are utilizing current procedures, and to ensure that they are using the most recent Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Application.

8-HI-c.4 – Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Application

The developer should submit a complete Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Application (Application) and any supporting documentation to the CPUC. An Application should include at minimum, the following:

  • The applicant (developers) name and location of principal place of business;
  • The type of service to be performed;
  • The geographical scope of the operation;
  • The type of equipment to be employed in the service;
  • The name of competing utilities for the proposed service;
  • A state of the developer’s financial ability to render the proposed service;
  • A current financial statement of the applicant (developer); and
  • The rates to be charged including the rules governing the proposed service.

H.R.S. § 269-7.5(a); H.A.R. §6-61-74.

8-HI-c.5 to 8-HI-c.6 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The HPUC reviews the Application materials for administrative and technical completeness.

8-HI-c.7 – Notify Any Known Customers or Patrons

The developer must notify any known customers or patrons of the proposed rates and charges associated with the proposed project within seven (7) days after filing the Application. H.R.S. § 269-7.5(b).

8-HI-c.8 – Is the Proposed Transmission Line a Above Surface Line Through a Residential Area?

Whenever a public utility plans to place, construct, erect, or otherwise build a new 46 kV or greater high-voltage electric transmission system above the surface of the ground through any residential area, the HPUC must conduct a public hearing prior to approval. H.R.S. § 269-27.5(b).

8-HI-c.9 to 8-HI-c.11 – Publish Notice of Public Hearing

A developer must provide notice of the public hearing on the island or islands on which the public utility provides utility services. H.R.S. § 269-27.12(c); H.R.S. § 269-132(c)(7). The notice of the public hearing must include the date, time, and place of the hearing. The developer must give the notice not less than once in each of each of three weeks in the county or counties in which the utility provides utility service. The developer must provide the first notice not less than twenty-one (21) days before the public hearing and the last notice not more than two (2) days before the scheduled hearing. H.R.S. § 269-27.12(c).

At the public hearing consumers or patrons of the public utility may present testimony to the HPUC concerning the public hearing. H.R.S. § 269-27.12(b).

8-HI-c.12 to 8-HI-c.13 – Assess Application for Approval

The HPUC must assess the Application materials for a high-voltage transmission system and public hearing testimony and make a decision on the Application within 180 days after the Application if filed. H.R.S. § 269-132(c).

The HPUC must issue a Certificate, authorizing the whole or any part of the operations covered by the Application, if it is found that the applicant (developer) is fit, willing, and able properly to perform the service proposed and to conform to the terms, conditions, and rules adopted by the HPUC, and that the proposed service is, or will be, required by the present or future public convenience and necessity. H.R.S. § 269-7.5(c).

In determining whether the developer is financially fit, the HPUC may allow for the use of commercially reasonable non-recourse project financing for the high-voltage electric transmission system. In determining whether the proposed transmission capacity service is or will be required by the present or future public convenience and necessity, HPUC must determine whether the high-voltage electric transmission cable system would be a cost-effective means of:

  • Interconnecting two or more electric utility systems;
  • Helping one or more electric utility companies meet the applicable renewable portfolio standard; or
  • Achieving other considerations the commission may deem appropriate.

H.R.S. § 132(c).

If the primary source or sources of the renewable electricity that will be transmitted to an electric utility company or companies using the high-voltage electric transmission cable system will be provided pursuant to a power purchase agreement or agreements between the electric utility company or companies and an owner or owners of a new renewable energy generation facility or facilities, in reviewing and approving the Application for a Certificate, the HPUC must, among other factors, take into consideration:

  • The status of the power purchase agreement or agreements;
  • The extent to which the project-on-project financing risk of the high-voltage electric transmission cable system and the associated renewable energy generation facilities is materially reduced through agreements between the certified cable company and the owner or owners of the renewable energy generation facilities holding the power purchase agreement or agreements, or through common ownership arrangements; and
  • The extent to which the certified cable company assumes financial responsibility for the high-voltage electric transmission cable system until both the cable system and the new generation facility or facilities have achieved commercial operations.

H.R.S. § 132(c).


Electric Transmission Systems 46 kV or More

When determining whether a new high-voltage electric transmission system (46 kV or more) should be approved the HPUC must consider:

  • Whether a benefit exists that outweighs the costs of placing electric transmission system underground;
  • Whether there is a governmental public policy requiring the electric transmission system to be placed, constructed, erected or built under ground, and the governmental agency establishing the policy commits funds for the additional costs of undergrounding;
  • The recommendation of the division of consumer advocacy of the department of commerce and consumer affairs, which shall be based on an evaluation of the factors set forth under this subsection; and
  • Any other relevant factors.

H.R.S. § 269-27.6(a).

Electric Transmission Systems 138 kV or More

When determining whether a new high-voltage electric transmission system (138 kV or more) should be approved the HPUC evaluates and makes specific findings on all of the following factors:

  • The amortized cost of construction over the respective usable life of an above-ground versus underground system;
  • The amortized cost of repair over the respective usable life of an above-ground versus underground system;
  • The risk of damage or destruction over the respective usable life of an above-ground versus an underground system;
  • The relative safety and liability risks of an above-ground versus underground system;
  • The electromagnetic field emission exposure from an above-ground versus underground system;
  • The proximity and visibility of an above-ground system to:
  1. High density population areas;
  2. Conservation and other valuable natural resource and public recreation areas;
  3. Areas of special importance to the tourism industry; and
  4. Other industries particularly dependent on Hawaii's natural beauty;
  • The length of the system;
  • The breadth and depth of public sentiment with respect to an above-ground versus underground system; and
  • Any other factors that the HPUC deems relevant.

H.R.S. § 269-27.6(b).

8-HI-c.14 – Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity

Any Certificate issued must specify the service rendered and the conditions and limitations as a public convenience and necessity may require. H.R.S. § 269-7.5(b).

Any Certificate, upon application of the holder and at the discretion of HPUC, may be amended, suspended, or revoked, in whole or in part. HPUC after notice and hearing may suspend, amend, or revoke any Certificate in part or in whole. H.R.S. § 269-7.5(e).

8-HI-c.15 to 8-HI-c.16 – Public Notice of Contested Case Hearing (If Applicable)

If the HPUC issues a ruling against the developer at, or following the public hearing, the developer will have the right to present their case in a contested case hearing before the HPUC. The HPUC must provide notice of the contested case hearing to all parties. 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;
  • An explicit statement in plain language of the issues involved and the facts alleged by the HPUC in support thereof;
  • The fact that any party may retain counsel if the party so desires and the fact that an individual may appear on the individual's own behalf, or a member of a partnership may represent the partnership, or an officer or authorized employee of a corporation or trust or association may represent the corporation, trust, or association. H.R.S. § 91-9(b).

At the contested case hearing, all parties will be provided with the opportunity to be heard, present evidence and argument on all issues involved. H.R.S. § 91-9(a), (c).

8-HI-c.17 – Issue Final Ruling on the Contested Case Hearing

The HPUC will issue a final ruling on the contested case hearing. The HPUC must issue the final ruling in writing and must accompany the decision with separate findings of fact and conclusions of law. The HPUC must notify the parties to the proceeding by delivering or mailing a certified copy of the decision and order an accompanying findings and conclusions within a reasonable time to each party. H.R.S. § 91-12.

8-HI-c.18 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

Any party to the contested case hearing may file a Notice of Appeal of the HPUC decision to the circuit court within thirty (30) days of the decision in dispute pursuant to H.R.S. § 91-14.



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