HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

501

TWENTY-EIGHTH LEGISLATURE, 2015

H.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

S.D. 1

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

RELATING TO AGRICULTURE.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that, for farmers and ranchers to remain competitive and self-sustaining, the State must provide incentives and mechanisms to ensure that all means of supporting the local agricultural industry are implemented. The public utilities commission regulates the rates charged by public utilities that provide essential services to the agriculture industry such as water, interisland shipping, and electricity.

The purpose of this Act is to provide for preferential rates for certain public utility services provided to ratepayers engaged in agricultural activities.

SECTION 2. Section 269-26.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"[[]269-26.5[]] Preferential [water] rates for agricultural activities. (a) It is the policy of the State to promote the long-term viability of agriculture by establishing mechanisms that provide for preferential rates for [potable water for] public utility services that are provided to ratepayers that engage in agricultural activities. The public utilities commission [shall have the authority to] may establish preferential rates for [potable water] water, electricity, and freight transport services that are used by ratepayers for agricultural activities in a public utility's service area.

(b) Upon receipt of a bona fide request for preferential rates for [potable water] water, electricity, or freight transport services to be used for agricultural activities[,] on lands within an agricultural district, and proof that the customer engages in agricultural activities[,] on lands within an agricultural district, a public utility shall provide proposed preferential rates for [potable water] the requested public utility service for water, electricity, or freight transport, to be used only for qualified agricultural activities to the public utilities commission for approval. All [such] rates approved by the public utilities commission pursuant to this section shall be subsidized by the [potable water] rates charged to other customers of the public utility, if required, as determined by the public utilities commission. In reviewing the proposed preferential rates, the public utilities commission, in consultation with the department of agriculture, may establish additional criteria to qualify bona fide agribusinesses for [water] public utility services used solely for agricultural activities. [For rate cases initiated pursuant to this section, the public utilities commission shall allow the recovery of any reasonable unamortized costs incurred by the public utility in its previous rate case; provided however, upon full amortization of these costs, rates shall be adjusted accordingly.]"

SECTION 3. The public utilities commission shall define "qualified agricultural activities" and "bona fide agribusinesses" for the purposes of section 269-26.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to ensure that preferential rates for water, electricity, and freight transport services are offered only to ratepayers who are actively, substantially, and gainfully using land within an agricultural district in agricultural production, including crop, livestock, and aquaculture.

SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2050.


 


 

Report Title:

Agriculture; Water, Electricity, and Freight Transport Preferential Rates; Public Utilities

 

Description:

Allows public utilities to establish certain discounted utility rates for water, electricity, and freight transport for agricultural activities, subject to PUC approval. Requires the PUC to define "qualified agricultural activities" and "bona fide agribusinesses". Takes effect 7/1/2050. (SD1)

 

 

 

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