- The Maui County Mayor’s Office of Economic Development posted a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a $30,000, four-month analysis of costs involved in the purchase of Maui Electric and associated infrastructure to create a public power and energy cooperative for Maui, Molokaʻi, and Lānaʻi.
- The RFP is in response to the expected approval by state regulators of the $4.3 billion purchase of Hawaiian Electric (HECO), Maui Electric’s parent company, by Florida-based NextEra Energy. The winner of the contract will also be asked to identify the utility ownership and business structure that would best support a transition to nearly 100% renewables and incorporating smart grids and micro-grids.
- The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, formed in 1904, is a not-for-profit generation, transmission and distribution cooperative owned and controlled by its 32,000 Kauai resident members. It is the type of alternative utility business model in which Maui’s leadership is interested.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said in a statement that the study information "will tell us if it would be best to start our own utility, form a co-op as Kauaʻi did, allow the NextEra deal to go through, or some other option,”
Another group of Hawaiians is studying possible benefits of a proposed Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative (HIEC) for the Big Island in response to the NextEra acquisition, which is expected to be finalized by the end of 2015.
Benefits expected from the new HIEC cooperative could include local control of infrastructure, strategies focused on local needs, lower electric costs from the use of local resources and technologies, increased energy independence, and more use of renewables.
Hawaiian Electric has proposed getting 67% of electricity from renewables by 2030, and this week the Hawaii legislature passed a 100% renewables mandate the state would have to meet by 2045. The acquisition of HEI offers NextEra Energy the opportunity to use Hawaiian Electric as a test bed for resolving high renewables penetration issues.