PUC FAQs

What is the CDMS eServices and where can I learn more?
CDMS eServices is the PUC’s new Case and Document Management System public portal that replaces the Document Management System (DMS). Learn more about this new system on our CDMS eService Help page.

CDMS eServices

  • What is the CDMS eServices and where can I learn more?

    CDMS eServices is the PUC’s new Case and Document Management System public portal that replaces the Document Management System (DMS). Learn more about this new system on our CDMS eService Help page.

    Updated 1/2024
  • About the Commission

  • What is the PUC?

    The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is a quasi-judicial regulatory state government agency. Its mission is to serve the public by ensuring essential utility services are delivered to consumers in a safe, reliable, economical, and environmentally sound manner. It does so through the oversight and approval of rates, resource planning and acquisition, and more.

    The Hawaii PUC consists of three commissioners that are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the State Senate for six-year terms. One of the commissioners is also appointed the chairperson by the governor and leads the PUC.

    The is supported by staff including engineers, auditors, utility analysts, economists, attorneys, compliance officers, neighbor island representatives, and administrative staff.

    Updated 1/2024
  • What does the PUC regulate?

    The PUC regulates all chartered, franchised, certificated, and registered public utility companies that provide electricity, gas, telecommunications, private water and sewage, and motor and water carrier transportation services in the State.

    A table summarizing the entities the Commission regulates can be found on Commission’s About Us webpage.

    Lists of all active utility companies, water carriers and motor carriers can be found in the reports tile in PUC’s Document Management System.

    Updated 1/2024
  • PUC Proceedings

  • What is a docket?

    The PUC divides its work across regulated entities into dockets, which are similar to a legal case or proceeding. Dockets allow regulated entities, parties, and intervenors to submit evidence, which helps inform the Commission’s decision-making. Dockets are opened when an applicant files a new request for PUC approval or by the Commission on its own motion to investigate a particular issue. Dockets are identified by their docket number, which is typically identified by the four-digit year the docket was opened, separated by a dash and numbered sequentially (e.g., YYYY-####)

    Updated 1/2024
  • What is a decision and order?

    An order is the Commission’s directive to an applicant, party, or regulated entity to take specific actions. A decision is the Commission’s ruling on whether to approve, deny, or approve with modifications the various applications, motions, and/or requests that come before the Commission. Decisions are almost always accompanied by orders, but orders may stand alone without decisions.

    Updated 1/2024
  • What Is the difference between a party, intervenor and participant?

    A party is everyone formally included in a docketed proceeding as defined in Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 91-1. Parties have specific rights in a PUC proceeding and must adhere to certain requirements, such as formally responding to questions from other parties. Parties usually have a broader range of privileges in a PUC proceeding, compared to participants or the general public. Parties or participants in PUC docketed proceedings consist of the applicant and the Consumer Advocate, and may also include stakeholders or other interested members of the public who have moved to intervene or participate.

    An intervenor is an organization or individual which has for and been granted approval from the PUC to formally intervene in a docketed proceeding and receives party status pursuant to Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) Section 16-601-55.

    A participant is an organization or individual with a limited interest in a proceeding which has moved for and been granted participant status from the PUC pursuant to HAR Section 16-601-56. Participants as established by order of the Commission. This is also known as participation without intervention.

    For more information on intervention and participation without intervention, see HAR Section 16-601-55 and 56.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Who is the Consumer Advocate?

    The Consumer Advocate is the Executive Director at the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affair’s Division of Consumer Advocacy (DCA). The DCA protects and represents interests of consumers of services provided by PUC regulated entities. The Consumer Advocate is an “ex officio party” to every PUC proceeding which means it is automatically included as a party to every PUC proceeding, pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 269-51.

    To learn more about the Division of Consumer Advocacy, visit the DCA website which includes a Consumer Center with helpful information on topics related to utility services.

    Updated 1/2024
  • What is a Formal Complaint?

    If your informal complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction and you wish to file a formal complaint, your pleading must be filed in accordance with the formal complaint filing procedures set forth in Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) listed below. Your filing will be subject to a $30.00 filing fee.

    Must comply with procedures outlined in the following HAR:

    HAR §16-601-67: Formal Complaint Rules

    §16-601-67 Formal complaints. (a) Any person may file a formal complaint against any public utility, water carrier, motor carrier, or other person subject to commission jurisdiction.

    (b) Formal complaints shall:

    (1) Be in writing;

    (2) Comply with sections 16-601-15 to 16-601-21;

    (3) State the full name and address of each complainant and of each respondent;

    (4) Set forth fully and clearly the specific act complained of in ordinary and concise language; and

    (5) Advise the respondent and the commission completely of the facts constituting the grounds of the complaint, the injury complained of, and the exact relief desired.

    (c) A complaint that alleges a violation of law shall clearly specify the particular parts of the law which are alleged to have been violated and the facts which the complainant relies upon to establish the violation.

    (d) If two or more sections or subsections of the law or two or more requirements established pursuant to law are alleged to be violated, the facts claimed to constitute violation of one section, subsection, or requirement shall be stated separately from those claimed to constitute a violation of another section, subsection, or requirement whenever that can be done without undue repetition.

    (e) If the formal complaint substantially complies with this subchapter, the commission shall serve a copy upon each respondent, together with an order requiring that the complaint be answered within twenty days after the date of service. Two copies of the formal complaint shall also be served on the consumer advocate. In emergency cases, the commission may require the filing of an answer within a shorter time.

    (f) If the formal complaint is not in substantial compliance with this subchapter, the commission shall return the complaint to the complainant with an explanation of the reasons why the formal complaint does not comply with this chapter. [Eff JAN 01 2019] (Auth: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-9, 271G-7) (Imp: HRS §§91-2, 92-17, 269-7, 269-12, 271-9, 271G-7)

    HAR §16-601-15

    §16-601-15 Time and place for filing documents. All pleadings, briefs, and other documents required to be filed with the commission shall be filed at the office of the commission within the time limit prescribed by statutes, rules, or by order of the commission. Unless otherwise ordered, the date on which the papers are received shall be regarded as the date of filing. [Eff JAN 01 2019] (Auth: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-9, 271G-7) (Imp: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-31, 271G-23)

    HAR §16-601-16

    16-601-16 Format for pleadings and other documents. (a) Pleadings, briefs, and other documents shall be typewritten upon paper 8-1/2 x 11 inches in size. Tables, maps, charts, exhibits, or appendices may be larger but shall be folded to that size where practical. The impression shall be double spaced, except that footnotes and quotations in excess of a few lines may be single spaced. Reproduction may be by any process which makes clear and permanently legible copies.

    (b) Pleadings, briefs, and other documents shall show the title of the proceeding, the docket number assigned by the chief clerk, the nature of the document, and the name and address of the person or attorney filing the document.

    (c) The original of each document, including applications, complaints, answers, motions, notices, briefs, and amendments shall be signed in black ink by each party or its counsel. Any handwritten entries on documents shall also be in black ink. If a party is a corporation or association, the document may be signed by an officer.

    (d) The format for pleadings and motions as prescribed by Rule 3 of the Rules of the Circuit Courts of the State of Hawaii may be used in lieu of the requirements of this section. [Eff JAN 01 2019] (Auth: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-9, 271G-7) (Imp: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-31, 271G-23)

    HAR §16-601-17

    §16-601-17 Verification. Applications, complaints, and other pleadings that initiate a proceeding and amendments to any such application, complaint, or other pleading shall be verified by at least one applicant or complainant. Answers, if any, shall be verified by at least one of the respondents filing the same. Pleadings may be verified:

    (1) By an officer, if the party filing the pleading is a corporation or association;

    (2) By the attorney for a party, if that party is absent or for some cause is unable to sign and verify that pleading. [Eff JAN 01 2019] (Auth: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-9, 271G-7) (Imp: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-31, 271G-23)

    HAR §16-601-18

    §16-601-18 Copies. Unless otherwise required by this chapter or the commission, each party shall file with the commission an original and eight copies of each application, complaint, or other pleading and any amendment to an application, complaint, or other pleading and serve two copies on the consumer advocate. The chairperson or administrative director may require that additional copies be provided or additional persons be served. [Eff JAN 01 2019] (Auth: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-9, 271G-7) (Imp: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-31, 271G-23)

    HAR §16-601-19

    §16-601-19 Defective documents. Any application filed with the commission, which is not in compliance with these rules, commission orders, other applicable rules, or statutes shall be accepted by the chief clerk and filed. The mere fact of filing shall not waive any failure to comply with this chapter or any other legal requirement. The commission may require the amendment of any application or entertain timely motions by the parties in connection therewith. [Eff JAN 01 2019] (Auth: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-9, 271G-7) (Imp: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-31, 271G-23)

    HAR §16-601-20

    §16-601-20 Amended pleadings. Any pleading may be amended at any time before service of a responsive pleading. [Eff JAN 01 2019] (Auth: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-9, 271G-7) (Imp: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-31, 271G-23)

    HAR §16-601-21

    §16-601-21 Service of process. (a) The commission shall cause the chief clerk to serve all decisions, orders, notices, and other documents issued by it, together with any other documents, that it is required by law to serve. All other documents shall be served by the parties filing them.

    (b) The commission or any person filing documents shall serve a copy upon each party or its attorney and shall attach a certificate of service on the filed original. Any attorney entering an appearance after the commencement of a proceeding shall notify all other attorneys then of record and all parties not represented by an attorney of that fact. The consumer advocate shall be served two copies of any documents filed with the commission.

    (c) Documents shall be served personally or, unless otherwise provided by law, by first class mail.

    (d) Service upon a party, other than the commission, shall be deemed complete upon the occurrence of at least one of the following:

    (1) The party or its attorney is personally served;

    (2) The document is delivered to the party’s office or its attorney’s office and left with some responsible person; or

    (3) The document is properly stamped, addressed, and mailed to the last known address of the party on file with the commission or to its attorney.

    (e) Whenever a party has the right to do some act or take some proceedings within a prescribed period after the service of a notice or other document upon the party and the notice or document is served upon the party by mail, two days shall be added to the prescribed period. [Eff JAN 01 2019] (Auth: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-9, 271G-7) (Imp: HRS §§91-2, 269-6, 271-31, 271G-23)

    Updated 1/2024
  • What are different ways to get involved in PUC Proceedings?

    There are many ways to get involved in PUC proceedings. You can monitor dockets, attend a public hearing, submit public comments, or move to formally intervene or participate in a proceeding.

    • Monitor dockets
      The PUC has many ongoing dockets involving the variety of entities the PUC regulates. Information on energy, telecommunications, motor carriers, water carriers, and water/wastewater dockets can be found on the PUC website. Docket details and filings can be viewed on PUC’s Document Management System. You can also subscribe to receive email notifications whenever new documents are filed into a particular docket or to receive an emailed Daily Activity Report which summarizes all PUC filings for a particular day.
    • Attend a public hearing
      By law, the PUC is required to hold public hearings for certain matters, including rate cases and construction of overhead high-voltage electrical transmissions lines over 46kV that pass through a residential area. The Commission may also hold public hearings and community meetings on its own motion, or based on a party’s request, on various issues. The PUC posts all hearings and community meetings on its Event Calendar.
    • Submit a public comment
      Interested members of the public who are not formally participating in a docket may share their views and concerns on pending docketed proceedings pending before the Commission by filing public comments. Public comments may be submitted online using the Public Comments webform, or delivered to the PUC by mail or in-person. Public comments are most useful to the Commission when they reference or are filed in a particular docket. Note that the PUC does not reply to public comments due, in part, to restrictions on ex parte communications, which prohibits private communication with the Commission on open proceedings.  For more information on ex parte communication in PUC proceedings, see Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) Section 16-601-29.
    • Intervene or formally participate in a proceeding
      Intervention and participation without intervention allow interested stakeholders, entities, or members of the public to formally participate in a PUC proceeding. To intervene, an applicant must file a motion to intervene demonstrating to the Commission that they meet certain criteria including, without limitation, having a financial, property, or other interest in the matter; being affected by the outcome; the ability to contribute to a sound record; and how their interest in the proceeding differs from those of the general public. An organization or individual with a limited interest in a proceeding may alternatively be granted participant status by the Commission and allowed to formally participate on a limited basis. For more information on intervention and participation without intervention, see HAR Section 16-601-55 and 56.
    Updated 1/2024
  • What is ex parte communication?

    Ex parte communication is written or oral communication that occurs between the PUC and a person or entity concerning pending issues in an open contested case proceeding without notice to that proceeding’s parties and participants. Ex parte communication with Commissioners and Commission staff is prohibited under Hawaii Administrative Rules Section 16-601-29.

    This means that private or “off the record” communications to the Commissioners or Commission staff from anyone about pending contested case proceedings are prohibited. This restriction ensures that Commission decisions are made consistent with the public interest and without improper influence.

    However, issues that have no bearing on the merits or the substance of the proceeding, such as procedural scheduling or status inquiries, are not considered ex parte communication and are therefore allowed.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Distributed Energy Resources (DER)

  • What are DERs?

    Distributed Energy Resources, or DERs, are small-scale resources that generate or store energy at a customer’s premises. In Hawaii, solar photovoltaic panels are the most common type of DER and are often paired with battery energy storage systems to allow customers to generate electricity during the day and store that energy for usage during the evening. There are many other types of DERs that customers can use to generate and store energy.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Where can I find more information if I want to install solar panels,
    batteries, or other DERs at my home or business?

    There are a variety of companies in the DER marketplace offering technologies that customers may evaluate. Additionally, any customer interconnecting their resources to the grid should consult their utility to determine options for enrollment in a DER program.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Are there any opportunities for customers who are interested in
    installing DERs but may experience financial barriers?

    Yes. Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority’s Green Energy Money $aver (“GEM$”) On-Bill Program offers financing options for low and moderate-income (“LMI”) Hawaiian Electric customers for rooftop solar systems, solar hot water systems, and commercial energy efficiency retrofits. Hawaii Energy offers several programs for Hawaiian Electric customers to receive rebates in return for energy-saving and energy efficiency measures, including a rebate for solar water heating systems. The Commission recently established the Equity Docket (No. 2022-0250), which intends to evaluate new programs and opportunities to reduce and remove financial barriers to accessing renewable energy programs.

    Updated 1/2024
  • What are DER programs?

    DER programs allow customers to interconnect DERs to Hawaiian Electric’s grid with policies, compensation rates, and incentives approved by the Commission. There are several “basic” DER programs that are mandatory for DER customers and a few “advanced” DER programs that are optional for DER customers and can be layered onto a basic program. The new basic DER program is the Smart DER Tariff, and the new advanced DER program is the Bring-Your-Own-Device Tariff. See the DER Programs page for more information about these programs.

    Updated 1/2024
  • What are the new DER programs developed in the DER Docket?

    The Commission has established three new DER programs for Hawaiian Electric customers through this docket: (1) the Smart DER Tariff, which allows DER customers to receive time-varying compensation for exported energy, (2) the Bring-Your-Own-Device (“BYOD”) Tariff, which pays incentives for customers to provide grid services (such as energy export during the evening peak) to the grid, and (3) the Scheduled Dispatch Program (“SDP”), an emergency program that pays incentives for customers to install batteries paired with solar that export to the grid every day during the evening peak. See the DER Programs page for more information about these programs.

    Updated 1/2024
  • What do these new DER programs mean for existing DER customers?

    Existing DER customers may choose to transition to the new Smart DER Tariff at any time once it is open. Transitioning is only required for customers on the Customer Grid Supply, Customer Grid Supply Plus, and Interim Smart Export tariffs. Customers currently in those programs will be required to transition to one of the Smart DER Tariff’s riders, the Export Rider or Non-Export Rider, seven years after when they initially enrolled in the tariff. The interim tariffs, which include the three tariffs listed above, Customer Self Supply, and the Standard Interconnection Agreement Tariff, will close for new enrollment in early 2024.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Where can I find more information if I’ve been selected for
    participation in Hawaiian Electric’s TOU Study?

    See the Commission’s Advanced Rate Design page for more information on Hawaiian Electric’s TOU Study.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Who handles permitting and interconnection of DERs in Hawaii?
    What does the Public Utilities Commission regulate?

    The Commission determines interconnection standards for DERs through the approval of Hawaiian Electric’s tariffs. To learn more about interconnection standards, see the Technical Issues page. Other city and county agencies are responsible for reviewing permits.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Do these DER policies apply to customers served by Kauai Island
    Utility Cooperative (“KIUC”)?

    No, KIUC offers programs for DER customers that are not determined by the Commission in the DER Docket. See KIUC’s website for more information.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Time of Use (TOU)

  • What are TOU rates? What is Hawaiian Electric’s Shift and Save
    program?

    Time of Use (“TOU”) rates charge customers different rates for electricity based on when they use it. This better aligns electricity prices with the cost to produce it. For example, energy is cheapest during the day when there is abundant solar, and most expensive in the evening when demand is high and fossil fuels replace solar energy. TOU rates provide an incentive for customers to shift energy consumption to the lower-cost daytime period, which may reduce customer costs and emissions. Hawaiian Electric’s Shift and Save program is a one-year TOU Study in which a subset of customers will be enrolled in TOU rates, launching on February 1, 2024. Customers may choose not to participate. See the Commission’s Advanced Rate Design page and Hawaiian Electric’s website for more information.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Is this the same as Hawaiian Electric’s smart meter program?

    No, Hawaiian Electric is currently deploying advanced meters, or “smart meters,” to all customers. These meters provide many benefits to customers, including enhanced communication with the utility that eliminates the need for Hawaiian Electric to physically read meters at customer premises, reducing costs and retaining customer privacy. To be selected for the TOU Study, customers must have smart meters installed for at least six months, but not all customers with smart meters will be selected for the TOU Study. Customers can also separately opt out of receiving a smart meter. See more information regarding the smart meter program at Hawaiian Electric’s website.

    Updated 1/2024
  • What are the rates for each time period?

    TOU rates are set at a 1:2:3 ratio for the daytime, overnight, and evening peak energy rates, respectively. Compared to existing energy rates, customers can expect overnight energy rates (9pm-9am) to be approximately the same as current rates, daytime energy rates (9am-5pm) to be approximately half of current rates, and evening peak energy rates (5pm-9pm) to be approximately 50% higher. See the Commission’s TOU Rate Study Fact Sheet for more information.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Does the 1:2:3 price ratio mean my rate will triple?

    No, the highest period, the evening peak period, will be about 50% higher than current rates. The 1:2:3 ratio means that the evening peak rate will be 3 times the rate in the lowest period, the daytime period. The daytime period rate will be about half the current rate.

    Updated 1/2024
  • What protections are in place for residential customers,
    including low- and moderate-income customers?

    For the first six months of the TOU Study, residential customers will see a maximum bill increase of $10 under the new rates compared to what they would have been charged under their previous rate schedule (e.g., Schedule R). After the first six months of the study, however, this bill protection will cease. Customers may also choose not to participate in the Study at any time. The Commission plans to closely monitor the impacts of the TOU rates on all customers, including low- and moderate-income customers, and may adjust the rates if necessary.

    Updated 1/2024
  • What protections are in place for business customers?

    Similar to bill protection for residential customers, for the first six months of the TOU Study, business customers will see a maximum bill increase of 4% under the new rates compared to what they would have been charged under their previous schedule (e.g., Schedule G). After the first six months of the study, however, this bill protection will cease.

    Updated 1/2024
  • How can I best take advantage of TOU rates?

    There are several simple ways to take advantage of this new rate design, which Hawaiian Electric is communicating to customers selected for enrollment. Customers may pursue energy efficiency measures (e.g., install efficient appliances and lightbulbs), shift energy usage away from the evening peak period (e.g., set timers for water heaters, laundry, and other appliances), schedule electric vehicles to charge overnight or during the daytime, and consider installing renewable energy measures that can reduce and/or shift energy usage. Customers may also access their My Energy Use Portal on Hawaiian Electric’s website to learn more about their current energy usage and ways to save.

    Updated 1/2024
  • What if I cannot shift my energy usage?

    Customers may always opt out of the TOU Study if it is not the right program for them. Please see Hawaiian Electric’s website for more information.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Does Hawaiian Electric already have TOU rates?

    Hawaiian Electric had an interim TOU program that was closed prior to the launch of this TOU Study. All customers on that program will migrate to an alternative rate schedule.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Why is the study period one year?

    The TOU Study period is limited to one year so that Hawaiian Electric can learn about the customer experience and identify opportunities to improve the rates and support offered for customers, prior to broader rollout to all residential and commercial Hawaiian Electric customers.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Why is bill protection only for the first six months of the
    study period?

    The Commission approved bill protection for six months to allow customers the opportunity to get comfortable with the rates and learn how to implement energy-shifting and energy-saving measures. However, it is also important that the rates properly incentivize customers to shift energy usage. While bill protection may cease after the first six months, Hawaiian Electric will continue to provide resources for customers to understand how to effectively participate in the TOU Study.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Have TOU rates worked in other states?

    Yes, nearly all utilities offer some form of dynamic pricing such as TOU rates, and several studies have shown that TOU rates enable customers to achieve meaningful bill reductions, including LMI customers.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Will all customers convert to TOU rates after the pilot?

    The Commission intends for TOU rates to be available as the default rate option for all customers in the future. The manner in which TOU rates will become the default will be determined following the TOU Study.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Will KIUC customers have a similar pilot?

    No, this program is for Hawaiian Electric’s customers.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Where can I find more information?

    The Commission’s Advanced Rate Design page and Hawaiian Electric’s website offer resources for understanding the TOU Study.

    Updated 1/2024
  • Motor Carriers

    Updated 1/2024