Description: Challenge to Hawai'i Public Utilities Commission's approval of an amended power purchase agreement with a company that was going to construct and operate a biomass-fueled energy production facility.
In re Hawai‘i Electric Light Co.
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 05/10/2019 Opinion Download Decision and order vacated and case remanded to the Public Utilities Commission. Hawai‘i Supreme Court Remanded Biomass Facility Power Purchase Agreement for “Explicit” Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruled that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) had erred by failing to explicitly consider the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions before approving a utility’s amended power purchase agreement (Amended PPA) with a company that was going to construct and operate a biomass-fueled energy production facility. The court said “explicit” findings regarding greenhouse gas emissions were required by the State’s utilities law. The court also ruled that the PUC had denied Life of the Land, an environmental nonprofit organization, due process by restricting the organization’s opportunity to be heard regarding the biomass facility’s impacts. The court therefore vacated the decision and order approving the Amended PPA and remanded to the PUC for a hearing that complied with procedural due process. The hearing must include an opportunity for the organization to “meaningfully address” the Amended PPA’s impacts on the organization’s members’ right to a clean and healthful environment and must also include “express consideration of [greenhouse gas] emissions that would result from approving the Amended PPA, whether the cost of energy under the Amended PPA is reasonable in light of the potential for [greenhouse gas] emissions, and whether the terms of the Amended PPA are prudent and in the public interest, in light of its potential hidden and long-term consequences.”