Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–SCOT-22-0000418
No. SCOT-22-0000418, Tuesday, January 31, 2023, 5 p.m.
In the Matter of the Application of HAWAIʻI ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY, INC. For Approval of a Power Purchase Agreement for Renewable Dispatchable Firm Energy and Capacity.
The above-captioned case was set for oral argument on the merits at:
The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
William S. Richardson School of Law
Classrooms 2 and 3
2515 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
Attorneys for Appellant HU HONUA BIOENERGY, LLC:
Bruce D. Voss and John D. Ferry III of Lung Rose Voss & Wagnild; Dean T. Yamamoto, Wil K. Yamamoto, and Jesse J. Smith of Yamamoto Caliboso Hetherington
Attorneys for Appellee HAWAIʻI ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY, INC.:
Marissa L.L. Owens; David M. Louie, Joseph A. Stewart, Bruce A. Nakamura, and Aaron R. Mun of Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda, LLP
Attorneys for Appellee DIVISION OF CONSUMER ADVOCACY, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS:
Scott D. Boone and Edward M. Knox
Attorney for Appellee TAWHIRI POWER LLC:
Sandra-Ann Y.H. Wong
Attorneys for Appellee PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION:
Caroline C. Ishida and Mark J. Kaetsu
Attorney for Appellee LIFE OF THE LAND:
Chase H. Livingston
COURT: Recktenwald, C.J., Nakayama, McKenna, Wilson, and Eddins, JJ.
Appellant Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC (Hu Honua) brings this direct appeal to challenge the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) Decision and Order No. 38395, “Denying Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company, Inc.’s Letter Request for Approval of Amended Power Purchase Agreement” and Decision and Order No. 38443, which denied Hu Honua’s motion for reconsideration of Order No. 38395.
Hu Honua is the developer of a renewable energy plant on Hawaiʻi Island. In 2017, Hawaiʻi Electric Light Company, Inc. (HELCO) and Hu Honua sought the PUC’s approval of a proposed contract (the Amended PPA). Under the Amended PPA, HELCO would purchase renewable energy from Hu Honua’s plant.
The PUC approved the Amended PPA in 2017. In Matter of Hawaiʻi Elec. Light Co., Inc., 145 Hawaiʻi 1, 445 P.3d 673 (2019) (HELCO I), this court vacated the PUC’s decision and remanded the case with instructions for the PUC to comply with its statutory and constitutional obligations and to allow the community and environmental group Life of the Land to meaningfully address the Amended PPA’s impacts on its right to a clean and healthful environment.
The PUC reopened the docket and issued a new decision denying the Amended PPA on a threshold waiver issue. In Matter of Hawaiʻi Elec. Light Co., Inc., 149 Hawaiʻi 239, 242, 487 P.3d 708, 711 (2021) (HELCO II), this court vacated the PUC’s denial of the Amended PPA and remanded for the PUC to follow the instructions from HELCO I.
The PUC reopened the docket and subsequently issued Order No. 38395, denying the Amended PPA. Hu Honua moved for reconsideration of Order No. 38395. The PUC denied that motion in Order No. 38443.
Before this court, Hu Honua argues that the PUC failed to follow the remand instructions from HELCO I and HELCO II. Hu Honua also maintains that the PUC did not properly apply HRS § 269-6(b), made clearly erroneous findings of fact, relied on improper evidence, and applied an incorrect standard of proof.