East Hawaii News

NextEra Pushes Newest Filings

September 1, 2015, 11:07 AM HST
* Updated September 1, 4:29 PM
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NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric pushed details of their planned HEI merger Monday when the company released documents that included 85 commitments, more than 50 of which that are new, that the company believes would help provide the acceleration of Hawai’i’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

On Tuesday, July 21, Governor Ige stated the state’s stance on the merger as against, noting that Hawai’i has unique utility needs.

“From my perspective, the challenge and opportunity that the utilities in Hawai’i have is not matched anywhere else in the country,” Governor Ige said in July. “The state is taking the position of opposing the merger as proposed.”

Governor Ige’s hesitation in placing the state in favor of the deal came from the uncertainty of whether or not NextEra would fulfill the state’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

Among NextEra’s new proposed filings are nearly $1 billion in customer service savings and economic benefits, broken down to almost $465 million in customer savings and $500 million in Hawai’i economic benefits for the first five years after closing.

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Also placed in the filings is $2.2 million in charitable giving for at least 10 years, along with a commitment to improve the development of more modern grids statewide with the deployment of smart meters, which would include time of use rate options, improving customer experience.

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NextEra has also listed its commitment to being locally managed.

NextEra officials say the new rules would “accelerate the achievement of Hawai’i’s goals of an affordable, 100 percent renewable energy future by 2045.”

The changes were part of the company’s newest filing with the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission.

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“Our expanded set of commitments is a clear reflection of the thoughtful input we have received from many key stakeholders, including the Governor and the Consumer Advocate,” said Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Energy Hawai’i LLC. “We fully embrace Hawai’i’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 and believe the partnership represents the best path forward to achieving this goal – the most ambitious of its kind in the nation. This is a goal that will be accomplished by many people working together collaboratively, and we hope to play a major role in that effort.”

Environmental organizations who are opponents of the merger have responded to NextEra’s newest filings, stating that they are “underwhelmed.”

“For all the criticism the takeover proposal has received, NextEra’s response is very underwhelming,” said Isaac Moriwake, the Earthjustice attorney representing Sierra Club before the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission. “They quote some big dollar figures, but they still have no plan or vision that fulfills Hawai’i’s needs.”

The Sierra Club’s director, Marti Townsend, noted that a response from NextEra had been waited on for months, noting Monday’s response as “nothing but more unsubstantiated, unrealistic promises.”

Alan Oshima, president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian Electric, says, “Achieving Hawai’i’s 100 percent renewable energy goal is of critical importance to all of us and we firmly believe that the combination of NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric will best position our state to realize this future.”

A decision on the $4.3 billion merger could come as late as next year.

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