In re Application of Maui Electric Co., Limited

At issue was whether Sierra Club’s concern regarding the “public health and visibility impacts of burning coal” rose to the level of property within the meaning of the due process clause and whether the protections of the due process clause apply to the right to a clean and healthful environment. This case involved a power purchase agreement between Maui Electric Co., an electric utility company, and Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company (HC&S), a producer of electricity. Maui Electric filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission seeking approval of the agreement, under which Maui Electric would continue to purchase energy generated at HC&S’s facility located in Pu’unene, Maui. Sierra Club filed a motion to intervene, arguing that the Pu’unene plant relied too heavily on coal to meet its power obligations. The Commission denied the motion to intervene and then granted the application to approve the agreement. Sierra Club appealed. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) dismissed the appeal, concluding that no appellate jurisdiction existed over the appeal. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment, holding that a due process hearing was required to protect the asserted property right to a clean and healthful environment guaranteed by the article XI, section 9 of the Hawai’i Constitution and defined by Haw. Rev. Stat. 269. View "In re Application of Maui Electric Co., Limited" on Justia Law