Hawaii PUC Issues Order on Utility Natural Hazard Mitigation
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (Commission) recently issued Order No. 40396 on November 21, 2023, which mandates all public utilities within the state to file a Utility Natural Hazard Mitigation Report.
The order requires utilities to submit the report within the next six months, precisely by May 21, 2024. This report should comprehensively outline ongoing efforts and future mitigation plans addressing natural hazards. The scope of the report encompasses utility service, capital expenditures, operations, and finances.
The timing of this directive is noteworthy, as it is a response to the growing impact of climate change on the local economy and infrastructure. The U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5 Report), released on November 14, 2023, underlines the urgency of addressing climate-related risks. The report highlights the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events, including heat-related illnesses, more expensive storm damages, prolonged droughts affecting agriculture and water systems, and escalating wildfires that threaten communities and air quality.
Hawaii has experienced multiple destructive natural hazard-related events in recent years, including tsunamis, hurricanes, heavy rains, severe flooding, landslides, and high winds. The August 2023 Maui wildfires stand as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of the islands to such events. In light of these challenges, the Commission’s order reflects a proactive approach to safeguarding utility services and infrastructure in the face of escalating natural hazards.
As utilities across Hawaii work to comply with this directive, it is essential to recognize the potential ripple effect. This order may serve as a harbinger of similar initiatives from utility commissions across the country, as the impacts of climate change become more pronounced.
We recommend that your company closely monitor developments related to this order and assess its potential implications for your operations. If you have any questions or require further assistance in navigating this regulatory landscape, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We remain committed to supporting you in adapting to the evolving regulatory environment.
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