- Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell will not be involved in efforts by the city countil to investigte public utility ownership models as an alternative for the proposed merger of NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric, Pacific Business News reports.
- The mayor's office said in a letter to city lawmakers this week that Caldwell does not object to the study of alternative utility business models that might replace the investor-owned Hawaiian Electric Company if regulators reject the $4.3 billion acquisition, but that the mayor himself will not participate in the efforts.
- Delivery of electricity should be left to the private sector, the mayor's office wrote after the council passed intentions after the council passed Resolution 15-214, calling for study of utility business model alternatives.
Caldwell is one of relatively few Hawaii leaders who does not publicly oppose the acquisition of Hawaiian Electric by Florida-based NextEra.
Hawaii Governor David Ige announced his opposition to the proposed deal in July and told the press he would recommend PUC not approve it after NextEra officials hesitantly observed the 100% renewables by 2045 law Ige backs “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 opposing it in the PUC’s merger docket (2015-0022).
Forming a city-owned electricity provider would burden the mayor’s current commitments to build and operate a rail transit system, rebuild Honolulu’s aging sewer and water infrastructure, resolve its housing shortage, and ease homelessness, Roy Amemiya, the city's managing director wrote to lawmakers.
The mayor is also concerned the city has no experience with electricity delivery. Experience, he believes, will be needed to assume utility responsibilities, recover the $4.3 billion purchase price, cover the utility’s $1.7 billion debt, and come up with hundreds of millions of dollars more “to modernize HECO’s aging infrastructure and fossil-fuels reliant technology,” Amemiya wrote.