73
THE SENATE                           S.R. NO.              
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            
                                                             
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                    SENATE  RESOLUTION
  REQUESTING THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION TO OPEN A GENERIC
    DOCKET ON THE ISSUES OF OVERHEAD AND UNDERGROUND PLACEMENT
    OF UTILITY LINES.



 1        WHEREAS, modern life is dependent on electricity and
 2   Hawaii's residents must be provided with a reliable and secure
 3   power supply; and
 4   
 5        WHEREAS, the issue of high voltage electric transmission
 6   line placement is a complex question of cost to consumers,
 7   aesthetics, cultural, economic, environmental, health, and
 8   safety issues; and
 9   
10        WHEREAS, the construction, maintenance, and utilization of
11   overhead electric transmission lines are thought to have more
12   adverse impacts on natural resources and the health and well-
13   being of consumers than underground placement of transmission
14   lines; and
15   
16        WHEREAS, given changes in technology, public sentiment,
17   and other influences, "conventional overhead technology" may
18   not be the best balance among environmental, social, economic,
19   and engineering concerns; and
20   
21        WHEREAS, the expected long life of new taller steel poles
22   and transmission lines mandate that planning for the future
23   must be considered in determining whether high-voltage electric
24   transmission lines are placed above ground or underground; and
25   
26        WHEREAS, piecemeal and incremental development with little
27   overall future planning has allowed overhead utility lines that
28   impact negatively on the beauty of Hawaii; and
29   
30        WHEREAS, there is broad support for public policy that
31   mandates that all utility lines should go underground unless it
32   can be established that they will not be a visual blight; and
33   
34        WHEREAS, the factors to be considered in determining the
35   placement of electric transmission lines should include:
36   
37        (1)  The amortized cost over the usable life of
38             underground facilities, which usable life generally
39             exceeds that of above ground facilities;
40   

 
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 1        (2)  The amortized cost of maintenance over the useful
 2             life of the respective facilities;
 3   
 4        (3)  The cost of disruption of service and repair arising
 5             from exposure of overhead facilities to natural
 6             disasters such as hurricanes;
 7   
 8        (4)  The cost arising directly and indirectly from the
 9             negative public perception which results from
10             continued advocacy of overheading, notwithstanding
11             clear public sentiment in opposition;
12   
13        (5)  The cost associated with traffic and other accidents
14             relating to exposed overhead transmission facilities;
15   
16        (6)  The potential or actual impact on the public health
17             and welfare from EMF radiation exposure;
18   
19        (7)  The cost of liability insurance and the long-term
20             liability exposure arising from continued overhead
21             line EMF radiation emission;
22   
23        (8)  The impact on Hawaii's tourism industry and other
24             industries' reliance on Hawaii's natural beauty such
25             as the film industry from the deterioration of that
26             beauty resulting from overhead facilities;
27   
28        (9)  The impact on the health and welfare of Hawaii's
29             residents from the continued erosion of Hawaii's
30             natural resources resulting from overhead facilities;
31   
32       (10)  Negative impact on firefighting caused by lines
33             creating a hazard and obstacle for helicopters; and
34   
35       (11)  The impact on property values and cultural or
36             historic sites;
37   
38   and
39   
40        WHEREAS, although sections 269-27.5 and 269-27.6, Hawaii
41   Revised Statutes, address procedure and criteria for
42   consideration in the Public Utilities Commission's
43   determination of above or below ground placement for
44   transmission lines, these provisions may not adequately provide
45   for, address, or incorporate all the issues and concerns,
46   including those specified above; and
47   

 
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                                  S.R. NO.              
                                                        
                                                        

 
 1        WHEREAS, this body believes that it is in the public
 2   interest that all issues of overhead or underground
 3   construction of electric transmission lines be thoroughly
 4   evaluated in a more general context to develop general
 5   governing principles rather than in the context of a specific
 6   powerline proposal; now, therefore,
 7   
 8        BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twentieth Legislature
 9   of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2000, that the
10   Public Utilities Commission is requested to open a generic
11   docket at the earliest opportunity for the purpose of
12   thoroughly evaluating and analyzing the broad issues of
13   overheading versus undergrounding electric transmission lines;
14   and
15   
16        BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the docket is requested to
17   include:
18   
19        (1)  The full scope of all relevant issues, including
20             those addressed in this Resolution, including the
21             actual costs of both types of line placements;
22             demonstration of need and service reliability;
23             service redundancy avoided and public policy options
24             for legislative evaluation;
25   
26        (2)  A report setting forth factors to be considered by
27             the Public Utilities Commission, or if necessary,
28             development of proposals to be submitted to this body
29             for statutory changes deemed advisable or necessary
30             in the criteria utilized to guide decision making on
31             overheading versus undergrounding, including criteria
32             regarding:
33   
34             (A)  Unresolved public health hazards that may result
35                  from overhead electrical transmission lines:
36                  when do public health and welfare concerns
37                  indicate that undergrounding must or should be
38                  required;
39   
40             (B)  How the full cost of overheading versus
41                  undergrounding is to be calculated:  what
42                  methods of cost estimation of both types of line
43                  placement will be used and what cost allocation
44                  methods will be used;
45   

 
 
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 1             (C)  How any legitimate cost differential is to be
 2                  allocated; and
 3   
 4             (D)  The actual costs of both types of line
 5                  placement, including environmental costs;
 6   
 7   and
 8   
 9        BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Public Utilities
10   Commission, in conducting this generic docket, is requested to
11   consider other states' requirements and programs to install new
12   underground utility facilities or to convert existing overhead
13   utility facilities, and to consult with appropriate
14   governmental agencies and private independents, and to consider
15   the opinions of independent experts; and
16   
17        BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Public Utilities
18   Commission is requested to submit a report concerning the
19   status of this docket and any findings and recommendations,
20   including proposed legislation, to the Legislature not later
21   than twenty calendar days prior to the convening of the Regular
22   Session of 2001; and
23   
24        BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this
25   Resolution be transmitted to the Chairperson of the Public
26   Utilities Commission; the Governor; the Chairperson of the
27   Board of Land and Natural Resources; the Director of Health;
28   the Director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control;
29   the Consumer Advocate; the Mayor of the City and County of
30   Honolulu; the Mayor of the County of Maui; the Mayor of the
31   County of Kauai; the Mayor of the County of Hawaii; Hawaiian
32   Electric Industries; Kauai Electric Company; Life of the Land;
33   Sierra Club; The Outdoor Circle; Malama o Manoa, Iliuolakalani
34   Coalition; Safe Power Action Network; League of Women Voters of
35   Honolulu; Historic Hawaii Foundation; and the Natural Resources
36   Defense Council.
37 
38 
39 
40                         OFFERED BY:  ____________________________