- Shareholders of Hawaii's investor owned utility voted Wednesday to approve the proposed $4.3 billion acquisition of the company by NextEra Energy. The investors in Hawaiian Electric Industries approved the deal by more than a 75% majority, the margin required by regulators, Greentech Media reports.
- NextEra's ownership of 17% of U.S. installed wind capacity and 14% of U.S. installed utility-scale solar capacity could position it to support the state’s new 100% renewables by 2045 mandate. But many are concerned the Florida-based will block growth of the residential solar now serving one in nine Hawaii residents.
- In April, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved NextEra acquisition of the investor-owned HEI electric utility subsidiaries known as HECO. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission must still accede. Commission hearings are expected in September.
In response to concerns about the deal, local leaders formed KULOLO (Keep Utilities Locally Owned, Locally Operated) to push the commission to consider alternative utility models. They and the Mayors of Maui and Oahu have initiated information-gathering processes to better understand how the islands might form an electric cooperative or municipal utility. Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) is their model of a successful alternative.
Some Hawaii residents argue HECO has slowed rooftop solar interconnections, but the utility says the sheer volume of rooftop solar applications and the fact that many of its circuits are already backfeeding into the grid each day has been the cause of delays. An estimated 25% of the state’s single family homes, clustered in subdivisions, have rooftop solar. An estimated 50% of HECO circuits are back-feeding solar energy-generated electricity to the system at midday.
NextEra has given no indication it will improve on HECO’s interconnection record, according to KULOLO leaders. Because NEE’s unregulated subsidiaries build central station wind and solar, some worry the acquisition could result in the state’s renewables goals de-emphasizing distributed generation. NEE’s regulated arm, Florida Power & Light, they say, has failed to build distributed generation resources into its resource mix.