East Hawaii News

DCCA Latest to Oppose Hawaiian Electric/NextEra Merger

August 11, 2015, 8:15 AM HST
* Updated August 11, 8:16 AM
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The Division of Consumer Advocacy of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is the latest state agency to publically oppose the $4.3 billion NextEra Energy, Inc./Hawaiian Electric Companies merger.

Governor Ige announced his stance on the merger during a July 21 news conference, noting that the state was in need of an electric company that would understood the needs of Hawai’i and who would follow the state’s commitment to renewable energy.

“We had committed to a 360-degree review of the proposed merger and all of the consultants and state personnel had independently reviewed the documents and testimonies submitted, and they all independently came to the same conclusion that it is in the state’s best interest to oppose the merger as proposed,” Governor Ige stated. “We need an electric company that sees Hawai‘i as the center of its work and the opportunity we represent as one of the greatest moments in history for any utility. We have not seen that in this proposal.”

Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono follows Governor Ige’s thoughts, saying he doesn’t believe the current proposal is in the public interest. Among the items that leave the intentions in question is the failure on NextEra’s behalf to prove that the merger would be significantly beneficial to consumers, according to Ono.

The DCCA believes that NextEra offers “flawed and broad speculative savings estimates, repeatedly touting benefits of millions of dollars in savings for customers.” According to officials, these filings are not clearly or consistently explained, regarding how savings will materialize to their full extent.

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“These kinds of asserted savings based on NextEra’s faulty calculations effectively overstate the potential benefits of the proposed merger, thereby creating an illusory benefit,” said Ono.  “Since our mission is to protect and advance the interests of Hawai’i’s consumers, we have serious concerns about this proposed merger.”

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Two public listening sessions regarding the proposed merger will be held on the Big Island in September. A Hilo meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m. at the Hilo High School Cafeteria. Kona will have a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30, also at 6 p.m., at the Kealakehe High School Cafeteria.

To review a copy of the Consumer Advocate’s testimony, visit the DCCA website.

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