HELCO Asks State Regulators For 4.2% Rate Increase
Hawaii Electric Light Co. has asked the state Public Utilities Commission to approve a 4.2% increase in its rates.
If approved, the hike would add $8.32 to a typical 500 kilowatt-hour monthly electric bill. The increase would result in $19.8 million in additional revenue for the Big Island’s electrical utility.
The increase, which would be subject to public hearings, would not go into effect until 2013 at the earliest, HELCO President Jay Ignacio said in a statement.
HELCO said the rate increase would pay for a variety of renewable energy projects including forecasting systems for wind and computerized models to analyze integration of additional solar power systems into the grid.
“Nearly 60% of our customers’ electric bills go to pay the cost of fuel and purchased power,” Ignacio said. “So it makes sense for HELCO to aggressively pursue renewable energy technologies that are not dependent upon oil and that will reduce the cost of electric service in the long run.”
The statement said that more than 40% of HELCO’s power currently comes from renewable sources. That number will soon rise above 50% with the addition of biomass energy from Hu Honua, at the site of the former Hilo Coast Processing Co. sugar plant, and the rapid growth of roof-top solar systems, HELCO said.
The increase would also fund grid maintenance such as increased tree trimming and pole and line maintenance.
The last time HELCO sought a rate change was in 2009 which it asked for an increase of 6%. The PUC ultimately granted a 1.3% hike.