Division of Consumer Advocacy Calls for Utility System Vulnerability Assessment Docket No. 2022-0135

Posted on Sep 28, 2023 in Hot Topics, Key Dockets, Main

In response to recent catastrophic wildfires on Maui and the urgent need for preventative action, the Division of Consumer Advocacy (DCA) has made recommendations regarding the assessment of vulnerabilities in Hawaii’s utility systems. These recommendations seek to investigate policy and actions to  Hawaii’s regulated utility systems’ vulnerability to natural disasters and manmade threats


  • On June 29, 2023, Hawaiian Electric filed its response to a Public Utilities Commission (PUC) motion, indicating that approval of the application related to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) award grant was dependent on the Commission.
  • Unprecedented wildfires struck Maui in August 2023, resulting in significant destruction.
  • On August 30, 2023, Hawaiian Electric received a letter from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) recommending its IIJA funding application for negotiation of a financial assistance award.
  • Life of the Land (LOL) filed a motion on September 11, 2023, with attached “Post Fire Information Requests,” seeking to address critical questions related to wildfire risks from electrical equipment.

Discussion: DCA believes that assessing vulnerabilities in Hawaii’s regulated utility systems is essential to ensuring the delivery of safe, reliable utility services, particularly in light of recent disasters. The proposed proceeding aims to identify and assess vulnerabilities and prioritize mitigation measures efficiently and cost-effectively. This assessment will support the development of plans to address critical vulnerabilities, enabling the state to achieve its clean energy and environmental goals.

Importantly, DCA recommends that LOL’s information requests be addressed within this separate proceeding rather than in the current docket. This separation is intended to prevent delays in securing potential IIJA matching funds, which Hawaiian Electric suggests should be expedited for the benefit of ratepayers.

Additionally, DCA suggests a bifurcated approach with two phases: the first focuses on forward-looking policy considerations, while the second incorporates specific findings from ongoing state and federal investigations.

Conclusion: DCA recommends that the PUC transfer LOL’s discovery requests to a new investigatory docket that assesses vulnerabilities in Hawaii’s utility systems. This initiative will enable the identification and prioritization of risk mitigation measures while avoiding delays in securing potential IIJA funding and streamlining efforts with ongoing investigations.

It’s essential to note that the DCA is making these suggestions to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and does not make the final decisions.


Learn more by going to the CDMS website and searching case 2022-0135. https://bit.ly/DOCKET-0135