- Hawaii Governor David Ige announced Monday he is opposed to the proposed $4.3 billion acquisition of the Hawaiian Electric Companies, the state's dominant electric utility by Florida-based NextEra Energy. The Governor told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser he will recommend the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission not approve the deal.
- Ige said initial meetings with NextEra created “serious reservations” and subsequent events have only added to his apprehensions. In response to the state’s landmark mandate to get to 100% renewables by 2045 that Ige just enthusiastically signed into law, NextEra officials hesitantly observed the goal “may prove to be very aggressive.”
- The Hawaii Office of Planning and the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) also came out against the acquisition as proposed, filing lengthy testimony on the PUC’s merger docket (2015-0022) arguing the deal should not be approved as currently structured.
“We need an electric company that sees Hawaii as the center of its work and the opportunity we represent as one of the greatest moments in history for any utility,” Governor Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “We have not seen that in this proposal.”
The Alliance for Solar Choice, which has been so outspoken in its concerns about HECO that the utility recently asked the PUC to remove it from one of the proceedings, applauded the governor “for recognizing NextEra’s failure to commit to Hawaii’s clean energy future. The state, TASC added, needs “a utility that's willing to make hard commitments to customer choice and integrating greater amounts of rooftop solar onto the grid.”
NextEra officials told the Star Advertiser they had no comment on Ige's position yet, but that they are committed to helping the state meet its renewable energy goals.
Critics say NextEra’s regulated utility, Florida Power & Light, has refused to stimulate growth in renewable resources, and point out that it has only 3,000 rooftop solar installations among its 4.8 million customers. HECO has almost 70,000 rooftop solar systems with 450,000 customers.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found no basis to block the deal, leaving approval at the PUC as the final hurdle NextEra must clear to finalize the acquisition.
Hawaii’s regulators could rule on the merger as late as mid-2016.