Alaska Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (7-AK-c)
A "public utility" or "utility" includes every corporation whether public, cooperative, or otherwise, company, individual, or association of individuals, their lessees, trustees, or receivers appointed by the court, that owns, operates, manages, or controls any plant, pipeline, or system for furnishing, by generation, transmission, or distribution, electrical service to the public for compensation. AS 42.05.990(6). As such, on-site electrical generation does not require a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Commission if the load is used entirely on-site. However, a public utility must obtain a CPCN from the Commission in order to sell excess capacity to the electrical grid.
The Commission regulates the construction of electric utilities pursuant to the Alaska Public Utilities Regulatory Act, AS 42.05 and Alaska Administrative Code, Title 03, Chapter 48. In addition, activities related to transmission facilities, bulk transmission, and grid interconnection are regulated through Alaska's CPCN process.
HydropowerThe Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has jurisdiction over most hydroelectric projects, including primary transmission lines required for the project. However, a developer may need to obtain a CPCN from the Commission for transmission line extension projects.
Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Process
7-AK-c.1 - Is the Project Exempt from the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) Requirement?
Certain projects may be exempt from Alaska’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) requirement. For example, a plant or facility that generates electricity entirely from renewable energy resources (i.e., wind, solar, geothermal, waste heat recovery, hydrothermal, wave, tidal, river in-stream, or hydropower) is exempt from regulation under the Alaska Public Utilities Regulatory Act, AS 42.05 if:
- The plant or facility is first placed into commercial operation on or after the effective date of this subsection and before January 1, 2016 and does not generate more than 65 megawatts of electricity;
- The electricity generated by the plant or facility is sold only to one or more electric utilities that are regulated by the Commission; and
- The person that constructs, owns, acquires, or operates the plant or facility has not received from the state: (i) a grant that was used to generate the electricity from the renewable energy resources; or (ii) a tax credit related to the generation of electricity from the renewable energy resources. AS 42.05.711(r).
A joint action agency established under AS 42.45.310 is exempt from regulation under the Alaska Public Utilities Regulatory Act, including the requirement to obtain a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) under AS 42.05.221, for the operation of, sale of power from, and other activities related to the power project the joint action agency purchases from the Alaska Energy Authority until the wholesale agreement and any related contract assigned by the authority becomes subject to review or approval by the Commission under AS 42.05.431. A joint action agency is formed by two or more public utilities that purchase power from a power project acquired or constructed as part of the former energy program for Alaska and owned by the Alaska Energy Authority. AS 42.45.310. The exemption provided by this subsection extends to repairs and improvements to the power project the joint action agency purchases from the authority but does not extend to any other power project or other activity of the joint action agency. AS 42.05.711(o).
The Commission may also exempt a utility, a class of utilities, or a utility service from all or a portion of the Alaska Public Utilities Regulatory Act if the Commission determines that an exemption is in the public interest. AS 42.05.711(d).
7-AK-c.2 - No CPCN Required; Continue with Project
7-AK-c.3 - Arrange for Publication of Notice in Newspaper
If the developer is required to apply for and obtain a CPCN, the developer should arrange for notice of the CPCN application to be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the state. 3 AAC 48.648 requires that a developer submit a purchase order, demonstrating that the developer has arranged for the publication of notice, with the developer’s CPCN application.
7-AK-c.4 - Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN)
To obtain a CPCN, the developer must submit to the Commission a CPCN Application, a proposed notice of the developer’s application, and a purchase order demonstrating that the developer has arranged for notice of the application to be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the state. The proposed notice of the application must include the following:
- A general description of the service proposed by the application;
- A request that interested parties file public comments with the Commission at the address specified in the notice;
- A deadline for the public comment period of 21 days from the date of publication of the notice;
- A statement indicating whether any motions for waiver or petitions for confidentiality will be filed with the application, along with a description of the information subject to the motion for waiver or petition for confidentiality;
- The developer’s physical and mailing address and telephone number;
- The Commission's mailing address and website address;
- A statement that the Commission has not determined whether the application is complete;
- A statement of the deadline for the Commission to determine whether the application is complete; and
- A statement that the application will be available for review at the offices of the Commission upon filing, along with a statement of the date that the application will be filed with the Commission. 3 AAC 48.648(e).
7-AK-c.5 – Publish Notice of Developer’s CPCN Application
Within five days after the developer files a CPCN application, the Commission arranges for notice of the developer’s application to be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the state. 3 AAC 48.648(f). The published notice invites interested members of the public to comment on the developer’s CPCN application and announces that any person proposing to file an application to furnish the same or similar services must file an application within 30 days of the date the original application is noticed to the public. 3 AAC 48.645(b).
7-AK-c.6 – Comment on Developer’s CPCN Application
Interested members of the public have 21 days to comment on the developer’s CPCN application. See 3 AAC 48.648(e)(3).
7-AK-c.7 – Is the Developer’s CPCN Application Complete?
An application is considered complete when filed with the Commission, unless the application:
- Is rejected by the Commission as incomplete within 15 business days of filing (see 3 AAC 48.650(a);
- Is accompanied by a request from the developer to waive a filing requirement, and the Commission denies the developer’s request;
- Is accompanied by a petition from the developer for confidential treatment that is subsequently denied by the Commission, and the records filed under seal are withdrawn under the procedures stated at 3 AAC 48.047; or
- Does not include a proposed public notice of the application that complies with (e) of this section. 3 AAC 48.648.
The Commission may dismiss an application that:
- Does not comply with a requirement established by statute or regulations and application forms adopted by the commission;
- Contains a request for waiver that does not comply with 3 AAC 48.648(c); or
- Contains a petition for confidential treatment that does not comply with 3 AAC 48.648(d). 3 AAC 48.650.
7-AK-c.8 - Order Explaining Dismissal for Incompleteness
If the Commission determines that the developer’s CPCN application is incomplete, the Commission will issue an order explaining why the application is being dismissed. 3 AAC 48.650 (2012 Supplement).
7-AK-c.9 – Order Finding Application Complete
If the Commission determines that the developer’s CPCN application is complete, the Commission issues an order finding the application to be complete. See 3 AAC 48.652.
7-AK-c.10 to 7-AK-c.11 – Does the Commission Require Supplemental or Clarifying Information?
After the Commission issues an order finding the developer’s CPCN application complete, the Commission may require that the developer submit any supplemental or clarifying information the Commission determines is necessary in order for the Commission to reach a decision on the application. The developer must respond to the Commission’s request for additional information on or before the date specified in the Commission’s request. 3 AAC 48.652.
7-AK-c.12 - Issue Final Order
The Commission must issue a final order, approving or disapproving the developer’s application for a CPCN, no later than 180 days after the Commission determines the developer’s application is complete. AS 42.05.175.
7-AK-c.13 – Appeal Commission’s Decision (If Applicable)
Any interested party not satisfied with the Commission’s decision may file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the date on which the Commission issues the final order. All final orders of the Commission are subject to judicial review in accordance with Alaska - AS 44.62.560 – 44.62.570.
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