East Hawaii News

Shareholders Overwhelmingly Approve HEI, NextEra Merger

June 10, 2015, 1:12 PM HST
* Updated June 10, 1:15 PM
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An overwhelming majority of Hawai’ian Electric Industries, Inc. shareholders have agreed to approve the merger agreement with NextEra Energy, Inc. Ninety percent of the HEI shareholders agreed upon the Dec. 3, 2014 decision on Wednesday.

“We are extremely pleased that our shareholders, many of whom are Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai’i Electric Light customers, have shown their strong support for this historic partnership by approving the proposed merger,” said Jeff Watanabe HEI’s chairman of the board. “The approval marks another significant milestone in our efforts to accelerate Hawai’i’s clean energy transformation by bringing the expertise and resources of NextEra Energy to our state to achieve even higher levels of renewables and lower energy costs for our customers.”

With Hawai’i being the only state with a 75 percent high approval requirement for a merger, HEI officials say that gaining 90 percent favor is a large feat.  HEI’s approval not only fulfilled the majority quota but also met Hawai’i law in gaining majority over 75 percent.

With rooftop solar integrated successfully onto 12 percent of its residential customers, HEI is a leader in clean and renewable energy, as they provide 21 percent of customers’ electricity needs from renewable energy resources.

In addition, NextEra Energy provides developed clean and renewable energy expertise as the company has built, and currently operates, one of the best modern grid networks in the country. NextEra also producers the largest amount of renewable energy from the wind and sun.

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In merging, the companies will combine their strengths and offer support that will allow HEI to accelerate its plans to lower electric bills, triple distributed solar, which includes rooftop solar, and achieve a 65 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2030.

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“We’re confident that this merger will help us more quickly achieve the affordable clean energy future we all want for Hawai’i,” said Connie Lau, HEI’s president and chief executive officer and chairman of the boards of Hawaiian Electric and American Savings Bank. “We’re proud to support a measure recently passed by the legislature and signed by our governor making Hawai’i the first state in the nation to adopt a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio standard. Partnering with NextEra Energy will strengthen and accelerate our ability to reach our state’s ambitious goals.”

Additional resources for HEI are an expectation of the merger, in addition to expertise that will allow Hawai’i’s clean energy transformation to accelerate.

With the approval from the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission, the companies have committed to about $60 million in savings to customers over a four year time period. The commitment extends to not increasing the general base electricity rate for at least four years following the close of the transition.

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HEI will continue to operate under its current name, be locally managed, and remain headquartered in Honolulu.

Despite approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the merger currently remains subject to regulatory approvals, including the PUC, other customary closing conditions, and the spinoff of American Savings Bank, which is a subsidiary of HEI.

Following the spinoff, American Savings Bank will remain based in Hawai’i as an independent public company and will continue to provide its current full range of financial products and services, including business and consumer banking, insurance and investments, corporate banking, and commercial real estate lending.

Earlier this week, Governor David Ige signed a bill into law that set a 70 percent RPS by 2040 and 100 percent RPS by 2045 in the State of Hawai’i. Both Hawaiian Electric and NextEra Energy have fully supported those goals.

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