- 21 of the 27 intervenors in the regulatory proceeding to determine the fate of the NextEra-Hawaiian Electric acquisition have filed comments on new commitments the companies made in August. Joined by the state Consumer Advocate, Pacific Business News reports that none of the intervenors expressed outright support for the $4.3 billion deal.
- Of those 22 responses filed with state utility regulators, 17, including the Consumer Advocate, continue to object to the deal. Five are non-committal and the rest have not filed comments on the new merger terms.
- Continued opposition from merger critics comes despite a commitment from the utilities that they would deliver $465 million in customer savings and some $500 million economic benefits within five years of the commission's decision, which is expected in June 2016.
A majority of merger intervenors and Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) may have lined up against its plan to buy Hawaiian Electric, but Florida-based NextEra Energy isn't backing down. Company officials reiterated last week that they are the bes
“We remain committed to continuing to work to address any and all concerns and continue to believe that NextEra Energy is the right partner for Hawaiian Electric to achieve Hawaii’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045,” a NextEra spokesman said.
Opposition to the merger from renewable energy and consumer advocates had built throughout the proceeding and solidified after Gov. Ige spoke out against it. Filings from his administrations Department of Business and Economic Development and the Office of Planning underscored his administration's opposition, though he declined to comment to Pacific Business News on the new merger conditions.
NextEra's latest slate of acquisition commitments, announced in August, could be aimed at softening that political opposition from the governor, a common negotiating tactic in merger cases. Last week, Exelon struck a deal with District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser for its $6.8 billion merger after announcing a new list of commitments on the purchase, even though Bowser had publicly supported an earlier PSC decision to reject the deal.
NextEra has made 85 official commitments about what it will do after the acquisition. The three main ones, according to NextEra Hawaii President James Gleason, are the nearly $1 billion in total economic benefits for Hawaii, its promise to keep the state on track to meet the 100% renewables by 2045 mandate, contributions to HEI’s advisory board, and a 10 year, $2.2 million charitable effort.
Other commitments include a two year acceleration of a grid modernizing program through smart meter deployment, establishing a $10 million customer benefit fund within four years, preserving local management, employee jobs and benefits, and providing enhanced service and reliability for customers.