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Utah Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (8-UT-c)

Information current as of 2020
In Utah, a public utility (developer) may need a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Utah Public Service Commission (PSC) for electrical transmission lines. The PSC regulates public utilities in the state, but the PSC does not have direct siting authority for the siting of electrical transmission lines. Siting authority for electrical transmission lines comes from state and local land use and permitting regulations, which include obtaining a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the PSC. See Transmission Siting in the Western United States. “Public utilities” include “electric corporations,” which are defined, in part, as “every corporation, cooperative association, and person, their lessees, trustees, and receivers, owning, controlling, operating, or managing any electrical plant, or in any way furnishing electric power for public service or to its customers or members for domestic, commercial, or industrial use…” Utah Code Ann. 54-2-1 (7)(a).

Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Process

8-UT-c.1 to 8-UT-c.2 – Is the Developer an “Electrical Corporation?”

In Utah, an electric corporation “may not establish, or begin construction or operation of a line…or any extension of a line” without first obtaining a CPCN from the PSC. This requirement does not apply to projects providing additional capacity or projects providing replacement capacity. Utah Code Ann. 11-13-304(2)(b). Projects not requiring a CPCN must still comply with state and local siting regulations. Projects requiring a CPCN must initiate the PSC process.

8-UT-c.3 - Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity Application

The developer must submit an Application for Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. In addition to submitting the application form, the developer must submit evidence that it has received, or is in the process of obtaining the required consent, franchise, or permit of the proper county, city, municipal, or other public authority. The developer must also submit a statement that the proposed project will not conflict with or adversely affect the operations of any existing public utility which supplies the same product or service. UC 54-4-25(4).

8-UT-c.4 to 8-UT-c.7 – Provide Notice of Hearing

The PSC conducts a hearing to review the CPCN application. UC 54-4-25(4)(c). The PSC must file and serve notice of the hearing. The notice includes:

  • The names and addresses of all persons to whom notice is being given;
  • The PSC’s file number;
  • The name of the proceeding; and
  • The date that the notice was mailed.

UC 63G-4-201(2)(a).

After the hearing, the PSC may:

  • Issue the CPCN as requested;
  • Refuse to issue the CPCN; or
  • Issue the certificate for the construction of a portion only of the contemplated line, plant, or system (or extension thereof) or with conditions.

UC 54-4-25(4)(c).

8-UT-c.8 to 8-UT-c.11– Does the Developer Seek Review?

If the PSC denies the developer’s CPCN application, the developer may seek review of the PSC decision by submitting an application for rehearing within 30 days after the PSC’s order. The application for rehearing will:

  • Be signed by the developer;
  • State the grounds for review and the relief requested;
  • State the date on which it was mailed; and
  • Be mailed to the presiding office and to each party.

UC 63G-4-301(a)-(b) and UC 54-7-15.

Any application for rehearing not granted by the PSC within 20 days is deemed denied UC 54-7-15(2)(b). Where, the PSC grants a rehearing, the PSC will provide notice of the rehearing to all parties. UC 63G-4-301(b)(5).

8-UT-c.12 to 8-UT-c.14 – Conduct Rehearing

The PSC conducts a rehearing. At the rehearing, the presiding officer will allow all parties to present evidence, argue, respond, conduct cross-examination, and submit rebuttal evidence. UC 63G-4-206(1)(d). After the rehearing the PSC will issue an Order on Review which will contain:

  • A designation of the statute or rule permitting or requiring review;
  • A statement of the issues reviewed;
  • Findings of fact as to each of the issues reviewed;
  • Conclusions of law as to each of the issues reviewed;
  • Notice of any right of judicial review available to the developer;
  • Time limits applicable to judicial review. UC 63G-4-301(6)(b)-(c).

If the PSC rules in favor of the developer it will issue the CPCN. A decision on rehearing constitutes exhaustion of administrative remedies for the purpose of judicial review.

8-UT-c.15 to 8-UT-c.17 – Does the Developer Seek Judicial Review?

The Utah Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to review all final actions of the PSC. UC 63G-4-403(1). If the PSC rules against the developer, the developer may file a Petition for Review of Order with the Court of Appeals within 30 days after the date of the written order by the PSC. U.R.A.P. Rule 14(a). The developer must serve, personally or by mail, a copy of the petition on all named respondents, all parties to the action and the Utah Attorney General. U.R.A.P. Rule 14(c).

8-UT-c.18 to 8-UT-c.20 – Conduct Judicial Review

The Court of Appeals will review the case. If the Court rules against the developer the project cannot continue. If the Court rules in favor of the developer, the CPCN will be issued.

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