Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity

Power Plant Research Program is responsible for coordinating the state's comprehensive review of proposed power generating and transmission facilities, and presents a consolidated state position before the Public Service Commission in licensing cases. Power Plant Research Program's coordination with an applicant for a new or modified power or transmission facility usually begins before the formal Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity process is initiated (see the figure below). The program typically meets with the applicant to discuss an anticipated project and ensure that all issues are identified and any necessary studies are conducted prior to submittal of the application. This coordination should take place well before the initiation of any adjudicatory process.

This pre-application coordination is very important for both large and small projects and provides an opportunity to greatly streamline the process.

Chart The application consists of direct testimony filed by the applicant in anticipation of an adjudicatory process before the Public Service Commission. The application summarizes the proposed project and its impacts, as described in Public Service Commission regulations. The testimony is traditionally accompanied by an environmental review document that presents the applicant's environmental and socioeconomic studies

The certificate of public convenience and necessity constitutes permission to construct the facility, and includes issuance of the required air quality and water appropriations permits. Relevant operating permits can be obtained simultaneously.

Cases before the commission are structured as administrative law proceedings before a Hearing Examiner, with lawyers representing the various parties involved. Parties to a case include the applicant, Power Pant Research Program (acting on behalf of the Department of Natural Resources and other state agencies), the Public Service Commission Staff, and the Office of People's Counsel (acting on behalf of the Maryland ratepayers). Other groups, such as federal agencies and private environmental organizations, as well as individuals, have a right to participate in the Public Service Commission hearing process. Any such parties can file testimony, participate in cross-examination of other parties, and file briefs with the commission summarizing their position and any objections they may have regarding the proposed project. The process is flexible. Phasing, waivers, and specific scheduling requests can be addressed in a pre-hearing conference or at various points along the process.

Once the application is filed, Power Plant Research Program reviews the testimony and the associated information on environmental, engineering, and socioeconomic impacts provided by the applicant. The program is also capable of replicating studies in any issue areas which are potentially important to Maryland. The commission schedules a hearing at which all the parties to the proceeding actively participate and file their findings as formal testimony.

The direct testimony sponsored by the program describes the analyses that the state performed to determine potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts from the proposed facility. These findings are subject to cross-examination by any other parties to the case. As part of this testimony, the program recommends to the commission a number of special conditions to be included with the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, if one is recommended to be issued. All interested state agencies have an opportunity to review the application, and to review and provide comments to the program before direct testimony is filed. Because air quality and water appropriations permits are part of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, the conditions presented to the commission incorporate recommendations governing air emissions and the quantity of water that can be withdrawn from surface or ground water. Many state agencies have input to the recommended conditions, including the Departments of Agriculture, Business and Employment Development, Environment, Natural Resources, and Transportation, as well as the Maryland Office of Planning and the Maryland Energy Administration.

The Public Service Commission's Hearing Examiner takes into consideration the license conditions recommended by the state, and the testimony and briefs filed by the applicant and all other parties, and issues a decision in the form of a proposed order on whether the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity should be granted and under what conditions. After an appeal period, a final order is released.