The PUC regulates a wide range of infrastructure and transportation companies. It oversees entities that deliver electricity, gas, private water and sewage services, telecommunications, and water and motor transportation services.
The commission has written in numerous annual reports that it aims to ensure that companies provide services “at just and reasonable rates while providing regulated companies the opportunity to earn a reasonable rate of return.”
The PUC was established as a part-time body in 1913 by Act 89. Its scope has expanded in the years since, the commission noted in a 2006 report to the Hawaii Legislature. The 1961 Hawaii Motor Carrier Law gave the commission power to regulate the motor vehicle transportation industry. The commission was granted regulatory authority over commercial water carriers by the Hawaii Water Carrier Act of 1974. It is now a full-time body and its role is codified in Chapter 269 of the Hawaii Revised Statues.
The PUC’s regulatory responsibilities include:
- Setting rules and enforcing statutes regulating electric, water, transportation, gas and telecommunications companies
- Implementing renewable portfolio standards requiring utilities to draw a certain percentage of energy from renewable sources
- Administering a one call center warning excavators of the location of buried installations such as pipes, ducts, conduits, sewer lines and storm drains
There are three commissioners, appointed by the governor to serve six-year terms, with the approval of the State Senate.
- Hermina Morita, chair (Appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in March 2011 to replace Les Kondo, whose term was set to expire June 30, 2014.
- Michael Champley (Appointed by Abercrombie in 2011 to replace Carlito Caliboso, who resigned in August and whose term was set to expire April 29, 2015.)
- Lorraine Akiba (Appointed by Abercrombie in January 2012 for a term that expires June 30, 2018.)
For more information on the PUC, its commissioners and staff, go to the agency’s website.