These are the procedural steps in a typical contested case proceeding, which is conducted like a court case. Some or all of the steps below may apply, depending on the case.
In uncontested case proceedings, some of the steps below may apply, but many of the court-like procedures would not apply, and there may also be other procedural steps in place of these, such as informal workshops.
Underlined terms will link you to a detailed definition in the glossary.
This page is intended to provide a general overview. There are links to separate documents in the panel below that provide more detailed discussions of how these steps apply to specific types of cases handled by the Commission.
- Advance Notice
Advance notice refers to any requirement for an applicant to notify designated people and entities before a filing is submitted to the Commission. Advance notice requirements vary depending on the type of case. For instance, in Section 248 siting cases, the advance notice provides basic information about the proposed project so that the recipients can contact the applicant directly to try to resolve any issues or concerns they have about the project.
A filing is any information submitted to the Commission. In the procedural flow charts in this section of the website, the term refers specifically to filing, or submitting, an application to the Commission.
- Scheduling Conference
The Commission holds a scheduling conference early in a case to determine the specifics of how a case will be managed. In general, the purpose of the scheduling conference is to discuss procedural details, as needed, and to set the schedule for the specific steps, including the evidentiary hearing.
- Site Visit
A site visit is a scheduled visit to a project location(s). It is an opportunity for the Commission (or hearing officer) to view the potentially affected area to get a better sense of the possible impacts of the proposed project. Parties and staff from the State agencies participating in a case may also attend.
- Public Hearing
Public hearings are held in certain cases to help the Commission understand a proposed project by hearing what the public thinks of it. Public hearings are held in a neutral location in the region where the proposed project would be located. Any member of the public may attend the public hearing and offer comments for the Commission to consider. Public hearings are transcribed by a court reporter so that there is a written record of the comments. Public hearings are automatically held in some types of Commission proceedings and otherwise are held at the discretion of the Commission if there is sufficient public interest in the case.
- Public Comments
Generally, public comments can be submitted at any time in a Commission proceeding. In some cases, there is a comment deadline to ensure that the comments are available for the Commission to consider before reaching its decision on the case. Public comments may raise issues that the Commission would not otherwise know to consider. If an evidentiary hearing will be held, public comments received before the hearing may help the Commission to ask questions of the parties and their witnesses.
Intervention is the procedure by which individuals or groups become formal parties to a case to present their interests directly to the Commission. Those who meet the criteria for intervention may be granted party status by the Commission, and are known as "intervenors." Examples of intervenors are landowners, public interest groups (such as environmental organizations), business organizations, municipal governments, and regional planning commissions.
There are different mechanisms for intervening depending on the type of case. In most cases, a Motion to Intervene must be filed, along with a Notice of Appearance. In some limited instances, intervention status can be requested by filing a letter or an intervention form.
Discovery is the process by which the parties in a case exchange information about their witnesses' prefiled testimony and exhibits. The discovery process helps the parties develop their respective positions in a case and identify issues on which there is agreement or that require resolution by the Commission.
- Testimony and Exhibits
Testimony is information that is sworn to be true and that either supports or criticizes the position of a party in a Commission case. The applicant's testimony describes the project and how it complies with the applicable legal criteria under review. The other parties to a case may file testimony that provides information supporting their position on whether the project complies with the applicable legal criteria. Exhibits are documents that support the testimony, such as site plans, photographs, reports, charts, spreadsheets, letters, or other forms of documentation that support the conclusions contained in the testimony.
- Evidentiary Hearing
An evidentiary hearing is when the Commission (or a hearing officer) formally admits the parties’ pre-filed testimony and exhibits into the evidentiary record for the case. Witnesses attest to the truth and accuracy of their testimony under oath, and the parties and the Commission (or the hearing officer) have the opportunity to question the witnesses about their testimony. All evidentiary hearings are transcribed by a court reporter and the transcript is made available to the public free of charge. Any member of the public is welcome to attend an evidentiary hearing as an observer.
- Stipulation or Memorandum of Understanding
A stipulation or Memorandum of Understanding is a document formalizing agreements among two or more of the parties to a case. Such agreements often resolve issues in dispute, subject to the Commission's review and approval.
A brief is a written document that presents the party’s legal and factual arguments for consideration by the Commission. Briefs deal with matters such as the parties' interpretations of the applicable law that is relevant to the case or their views of how the Commission should understand the evidence that has been presented.
Commission decisions are announced and explained in written orders. By law, the final order in a Commission proceeding must be based on the evidentiary record. A final order will include findings of fact, conclusions of law, and an evaluation of whether the proposed regulatory action should be ordered in light of those facts and the applicable legal criteria. If the decision is to approve the project, the order will be accompanied by an approval document called a Certificate of Public Good (CPG). The CPG may contain conditions that must be met by the CPG Holder.