East Hawaii News

Agreement Calls for HELCO to Drop Rate Hike Request

January 29, 2013, 12:14 PM HST
* Updated January 29, 12:15 PM
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Hawaiian Electric Co. has reached an agreement with the state’s consumer advocate to drop its request for an increase in electrical rates on the Big Island.

According to the agreement announced Monday night, HECO subsidiary Hawaii Electric Light Co. will withdraw its application for a 4.2% rate hike filed in August. The increase would have added $8.32 to a typical 500 kilowatt-hour monthly electric bill and brought in $19.8 million in additional revenue for the Big Island’s electrical utility.

The rate increase came under fire in October during a public hearing held in Hilo by the state Public Utilities Commission.

The agreement reached between HECO and the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Division of Consumer Advocacy also would have HECO and its subsidiaries reduce by $40 million the amount sought for improvements to a biofuel generating station at Campbell Industrial Park on Oahu and for a new customer information system.

HECO will also delay filing a 2014 rate increase request that would have been filed this year.

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The agreement is subject to approval by the state PUC.

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“This settlement will benefit consumers and help reduce the ever-increasing cost of electricity,” said Jeffrey Ono, executive director of the DCA.

HECO said that the agreement would allow for further focus on utilizing local, renewable energy sources and other options to reduce the state’s dependence on imported oil.

“We believe the rate case settlement agreement we reached with the Consumer Advocate is fair and recognizes how difficult times are for our customers,” HECO said in a statement. “High fuel prices are continuing to affect our customers and hurt our state’s economy.”

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According to data from the US Energy Administration, in November 2012 the average cost for electricity for residential use in Hawaii was 36.72 cents per kilowatt hour. The average nationwide for that month was 11.74 cents per kilowatt hour.

The rate on the Big Island is higher than the state average.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said the state needed to take action to reduce the impact of high oil prices on Hawaii’s families and businesses “who are struggling to make ends meet.”

“While this settlement will help in the short-term, we remain committed to pursuing long-term solutions toward clean energy alternatives,” Abercrombie said.

“With high oil prices driving up electricity and other costs throughout our economy, we have to take action to help Hawaii’s families and businesses who are struggling to make ends meet,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “While this settlement will help in the short-term, we remain committed to pursuing long-term solutions toward clean energy alternatives.”

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