PUC votes to deny HECO/NextEra merger
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission voted Friday in a 2-0 decision to dismiss without prejudice the merger agreement between NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Companies.
HONOLULU - The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission voted Friday in a 2-0 decision to dismiss without prejudice the merger agreement between NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Companies. Commissioner Thomas Gorak abstained from the decision.
The PUC concluded that while the companies demonstrated that NextEra is fit, willing and able to perform the services currently offered by HECO, they did not demonstrate that the application is reasonable and in the public interest.
The commission focused on the following five fundamental areas of concern:
- Benefits to ratepayers
- Risks to ratepayers
- Applicants' clean energy commitments
- Proposed effect on local governance
- Proposed effect on competition in local energy markets
Commissioner Gorak expressed his full support for the decision. In abstaining, the PUC says Gorka believes the focus should be on the substance of the decision and not on the concerns raised by some on his participation in the decision. Since the decision had the support of the two other commissioners, the PUC says his vote was not necessary.
The PUC says HECO can find another partner or renew discussions with NextEra. HECO also has 10 days to appeal the decision.
NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Industries issued the following statement:
"We are in receipt of today's PUC order and are currently reviewing it."
Gov. David Ige released the following statement:
"I want to thank the Public Utilities Commission and stakeholders for their participation in this historic process. This ruling gives us a chance to reset and refocus on our goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The proceeding helped define the characteristics and parameters of Hawaii’s preferred energy future. We look forward to creating a process to find the best partner in the world."
"No matter who owns the company, the energy vision for Hawai'i remains very clear – 100 percent renewable energy with a transformation to a customer-centered utility focusing on smart meters, smart grid, distributed local solutions, and as much consumer choice as possible."
Rep. Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimanalo), chairman of the House Energy & Environmental Protection Committee, released the following statement:
"This decision is a huge win for local consumers and affirms that from this day forward major utility decisions must make the interests of local residents a priority, that the centralized utility monopoly must change, and that replacing one monopoly with an even bigger one isn't the answer people are looking for."
"There are far better alternative options that will save consumers significantly more money and more quickly get us off our reliance on imported fossil fuels."
"The next steps are already being taken. We must work together with all stakeholders and the public to reach a less expensive and cleaner energy future that we all know is possible."
"Instead of envisioning a 21st century grid that enables customer options like rooftop solar, NextEra wanted to double-down on its 'build more, pay more' monopoly business," said Hajime Alabanza, Executive Assistant with Hawaii Solar Energy Association. "The Commission understood this isn't the right direction for Hawaii's customers."
"NextEra made this a no brainer," said Isaac Moriwake, Staff Attorney with Earthjustice. "Outright rejection of the takeover was the only realistic option. NextEra refused to provide its plans for Hawaii, other than to give us a ‘bigger HECO.’ Based on its opposition to clean energy in Florida and failure to chart a different path in this state, NextEra is not what Hawaii wants or needs."
"Utility executives need to understand that innovative technologies like rooftop solar, just like cellphones before it, are the wave of the future," said Robert Harris, the Alliance for Solar Choice Spokesperson. "Simply selling out for a golden parachute is not a viable option for HECO executives, nor is fighting against customers trying to do the right thing for their households and the planet. Utilities need to move towards a 21st century grid that empowers customers to save money and produce cleaner power."
"Hawaii is committed to a 100% clean energy future," said Marti Townsend, Director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii. "We need partners that will help advance our critical economic and environmental goals, and not businesses focused solely on their short-term gain."
Marco Mangelsdorf, Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative board secretary and spokesman, released the following statement:
"It’s been a long road these past two years for the people at Hawaiian Electric with a lot of hard work put into trying to close this deal. We have a great deal of respect for their efforts. As to why this transaction did not close, we leave the reading of those tea leaves to others."
"As far as HIEC, we will continue to maintain open and friendly communication with HEI management and contribute where we can to advocate for the best interests of the residents of the Big Island. We have said in our public filings on the docket that we believe exploring a cooperative alternative for Hawaii Island is in the best interests of our community, and we stand ready to begin that process at any time."
We will have more on this story on KITV Island News at 5, 6 and 10.