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 5/2023
  • 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 5/2023
  • 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 5/2023
  • 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 5/2023
  • 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 5/2023
  • 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 5/2023
  • 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 5/2023
  • 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 5/2023
  • Motor Carriers

    eServices / CDMS

  • What is the Case and Document Management System (CDMS) and where can I learn more?

    CDMS is the PUC’s new eServices system that replaces the PUC’s Document Management System (DMS). Learn more about this new system, what to expect, sign up for updates and read FAQs on our webpage about the CDMS Project.

    Updated 5/2023
  • Updated 5/2023