(1)(a) No later than 145 days after the application is filed, the administrative law judge shall conduct a certification hearing pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57 at a central location in proximity to the proposed transmission line or corridor. (b) Notice of the certification hearing and other public hearings provided for in this section and notice of the deadline for filing of notice of intent to be a party shall be made in accordance with the requirements of s. 403.5363. (2)(a) Parties to the proceeding shall be:
1. The applicant.
2. The department.
3. The commission.
4. The Department of Community Affairs.
5. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
6. The Department of Transportation.
7. Each water management district in the jurisdiction of which the proposed transmission line or corridor is to be located.
8. The local government.
9. The regional planning council.
(b) Any party listed in paragraph (a), other than the department or the applicant, may waive its right to participate in these proceedings. If any listed party fails to file a notice of its intent to be a party on or before the 30th day before the certification hearing, the party is deemed to have waived its right to be a party unless its participation would not prejudice the rights of any party to the proceeding.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 120 to the contrary, upon the filing with the administrative law judge of a notice of intent to be a party by an agency, corporation, or association described in subparagraphs 1. and 2. or a petition for intervention by a person described in subparagraph 3. no later than 30 days before the date set for the certification hearing, the following shall also be parties to the proceeding:
1. Any agency not listed in paragraph (a) as to matters within its jurisdiction.
2. Any domestic nonprofit corporation or association formed, in whole or in part, to promote conservation of natural beauty; to protect the environment, personal health, or other biological values; to preserve historical sites; to promote consumer interests; to represent labor, commercial, or industrial groups; or to promote comprehensive planning or orderly development of the area in which the proposed transmission line or corridor is to be located.
3. Any person whose substantial interests are affected and being determined by the proceeding.
(d) Any agency whose properties or works may be affected shall be made a party upon the request of the agency or any party to this proceeding.
(3)(a) The order of presentation at the certification hearing, unless otherwise changed by the administrative law judge to ensure the orderly presentation of witnesses and evidence, shall be:
1. The applicant.
2. The department.
3. State agencies.
4. Regional agencies, including regional planning councils and water management districts.
5. Local governments.
6. Other parties.
(b) When appropriate, any person may be given an opportunity to present oral or written communications to the administrative law judge. If the administrative law judge proposes to consider such communications, all parties shall be given an opportunity to cross-examine, challenge, or rebut the communications.
(4)(a) One public hearing where members of the public who are not parties to the certification hearing may testify shall be held in conjunction with the certification hearing.
(b) Upon the request of the local government, one public hearing where members of the public who are not parties to the certification hearing and who reside within the jurisdiction of the local government may testify shall be held within the boundaries of each county in which a local government that made such a request is located.
(c) A local government shall notify the administrative law judge and all parties not later than 50 days after the filing of the application as to whether the local government wishes to have a public hearing within the boundaries of its county. The local government is responsible for providing the location of the public hearing if held separately from the certification hearing.
(d) Within 5 days after notification, the administrative law judge shall determine the date of the public hearing, which shall be held before or during the certification hearing. If two or more local governments within one county request a public hearing, the hearing shall be consolidated so that only one public hearing is held in any county. The location of a consolidated hearing shall be determined by the administrative law judge.
(e) If a local government does not request a public hearing within 50 days after the filing of the application, members of the public who are not parties to the certification hearing and who reside within the jurisdiction of the local government may testify during the hearing held under paragraph (b).
(5) At the conclusion of the certification hearing, the administrative law judge shall, after consideration of all evidence of record, issue a recommended order disposing of the application no later than 45 days after the transcript of the certification hearing and the public hearings is filed with the Division of Administrative Hearings.
(6)(a) No later than 29 days before the certification hearing, the department or the applicant may request that the administrative law judge cancel the certification hearing and relinquish jurisdiction to the department if all parties to the proceeding stipulate that there are no disputed issues of material fact or law.
(b) The administrative law judge shall issue an order granting or denying the request within 5 days.
(c) If the administrative law judge grants the request, the department and the applicant shall publish notices of the cancellation of the certification hearing in accordance with s. 403.5363. (d)1. If the administrative law judge grants the request, the department shall prepare and issue a final order in accordance with s. 403.529(1)(a).
2. Parties may submit proposed final orders to the department no later than 10 days after the administrative law judge issues an order relinquishing jurisdiction.
(7) The applicant shall pay those expenses and costs associated with the conduct of the hearing and the recording and transcription of the proceedings.