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Oral Argument Before The Hawaii Supreme Court — SCOT-17-0000630

No. SCOT-17-0000630, Thursday, October 25, 2018, 8:45 a.m. (Amended 10/01/18)

In the Matter of the Application of HAWAII ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY, INC. For Approval of a Power Purchase Agreement for Renewable Dispatchable Firm Energy and Capacity.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorney for appellant Life of the Land:

Lance D. Collins of the Law Office of Lance D Collins

Attorneys for appellee Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC:

Margery S. Bronster, Rex Fujichaku, and Kelly A. Higa of Bronster Fujichaku Robbins; Dean T. Yamamoto and Wil K. Yamamoto of Yamamoto Caliboso, LLLC

Attorneys for appellee Public Utilities Commission:

Clyde J. Wadsworth, Solicitor General, and Kaliko onalani D. Fernandes, Deputy Solicitor General

Attorneys for appellees Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. and Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc.:

David M. Louie, Joseph A. Stewart, and Aaron R. Mun of Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda, LLP

NOTE: Order granting motion to continue oral argument from 10/18/18 to 10/25/18, at 8:45 a.m., filed 09/25/18.

COURT: MER, C.J., PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.

Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format  ]

Brief Description:

Appellant Life of the Land (LOL) brings this appeal to challenge the State Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) 2017 Decision and Order No. 34726, which approved Appellant Hawai i Electric Light Company’s (HELCO) Amended and Restated Power Purchase Agreement for Renewable Dispatchable Firm Energy and Capacity with Appellant Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC (Hu Honua). LOL also challenges the PUC’s Order No. 34651, which denied LOL’s Motion to Upgrade Status.

In 2012, Hu Honua and HELCO entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA), which provided that Hu Honua would develop and operate a biomass power plant to generate renewable energy that HELCO would distribute to its customers on Hawai i island. In the PUC proceeding for HELCO’s application for approval of the PPA, the PUC permitted LOL to participate on certain issues as a “limited participant.” The PUC approved the PPA.

HELCO subsequently terminated the 2012 PPA, alleging that Hu Honua failed to meet certain project milestones contained therein. HELCO and Hu Honua subsequently agreed to enter into and seek approval from the PUC for an amended and restated PPA.

In May 2017, HELCO submitted a request to the PUC to approve its amended PPA with Hu Honua, and the PUC initiated a new proceeding for the request. The PUC denied LOL’s Motion to Upgrade Status from “participant” to “intervenor” in the 2017 proceedings, and granted LOL “conditional participant status” based on LOL’s limited participant status in the 2012 proceeding. In July 2017, the PUC issued a Decision and Order approving the Amended PPA.

LOL appealed the PUC’s 2017 Decision and Order and Order Denying LOL’s Motion to Upgrade Status directly to this court.

On appeal, the issues are as follows:

1. Whether the PUC reversibly erred by failing to consider the effect of the Amended PPA on greenhouse gas emissions;

2. Whether the PUC denied LOL’s due process right to protect its right to a clean and healthful environment by restricting LOL’s participation in the proceedings;

 3. Whether the PUC erred by denying LOL’s Motion to Upgrade Status from “participant” to “intervenor.”