The PUC shall hold a public hearing once the environmental assessment has been completed. Notice of the hearing shall be given in accordance with Minnesota Statutes, section 216E.03, subdivision 6. At least a portion of the hearing shall be held in a county where the proposed large electric power generating plant or high voltage transmission line would be located.
The commission shall appoint a person to act as the hearing examiner at the public hearing. The hearing examiner may be an employee of the PUC. The hearing examiner shall set the date and place for the hearing and provide notice to the public. The hearing examiner may make such rulings as are required to conduct the hearing in a fair, impartial, and expeditious manner, including the authority to maintain decorum at the hearing, to exclude repetitious or irrelevant testimony, to limit the amount of time for oral testimony, and to continue the hearing from time to time as needed. Persons may testify at the hearing without being first sworn under oath. The hearing examiner shall ensure that the record created at the hearing is preserved and transmitted to the commission. An audio recording of the hearing must be made, unless the commission determines that a court reporter is appropriate. The hearing examiner shall not prepare a report or make any recommendation to the commission unless the commission requests the hearing examiner to do so.
The hearing must be conducted in the following manner, although the hearing examiner may vary the order in which the hearing proceeds:
the staff shall make a brief presentation to describe the project, explain the process to be followed, and introduce documents to be included in the record, including the application, the environmental assessment, and various procedural documents;
the applicant shall introduce its evidence by way of testimony and exhibits;
the public must be afforded an opportunity to make an oral presentation, present documentary evidence, and ask questions of the applicant and staff;
the hearing examiner shall provide a period of not less than ten days for the submission of written comments into the record after the close of the hearing; and
the hearing examiner shall transmit the complete record created at the hearing, including all written comments, to the commission within five days of the close of the record, unless the hearing examiner has been requested by the commission to prepare a report.
Once the Public Utilities Commission has determined questions of need, including size, type, and timing; questions of system configurations; and questions of voltage, those issues must not be addressed in the public hearing.
Interested persons may comment upon the environmental assessment at the public hearing. Comments on the environmental assessment shall become part of the record in the proceeding but the commission shall not be required to revise or supplement the environmental assessment document.
27 SR 1295; L 2005 c 97 art 3 s 19
September 18, 2009