Hawaii Governor David Ige isn’t a fan. Neither is Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa. Same with Sierra Club Hawaii Director Marti Townshend. And now we know that state Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono isn’t on board, either.
I’m talking about the proposed merger between Hawaiian Electric and Florida-based NextEra Energy, which (if approved) would be worth about $4.3 billion. For its part, the two companies insist that their merger will help Hawaii reach its clean energy goals (100 percent renewable power by 2030). But opposition has been growing to the merger, so Ono’s comments, which his office released yesterday afternoon, aren’t really a surprise.
“Among many questionable claims, NextEra offers flawed and broad speculative savings estimates, repeatedly touting benefits of millions of dollars in savings for customers,” states an Aug. 10 news release from the office of the state Consumer Advocate. “The company’s filings do not clearly or consistently explain how these savings will materialize to the full extent they have been claimed. This includes, for example, millions of dollars in purported savings resulting from broad reductions in operations and maintenance expenses that have not been clearly laid out despite the company having ample opportunity to clarify these and other benefits during the discovery period.”
For these reasons, Ono wants the deal scrapped–or at least modified with serious conditions that protect consumers and guarantee savings returns to rate-payers.
“These kinds of asserted savings based on NextEra’s faulty calculations effectively overstate the potential benefits of the proposed merger, thereby creating an illusory benefit,” Ono said in the news release. “Since our mission is to protect and advance the interests of Hawaii’s consumers, we have serious concerns about this proposed merger.”
Click here for a large cache of state Consumer Advocate testimonies on the proposed Hawaiian Electric/NextEra merger.
Next month, the state Public Utilities Commission will also be holding three “listening sessions” in Maui County on the proposed merger. Here’s the schedule:
Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, 6pm
Lihikai Elementary School Cafeteria
335 S. Papa Ave., Kahului
Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, 11am
Lanai High & Elementary School Cafeteria
555 Fraser Ave., Lanai City
Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, 9am
Kulana Oiwi, Halau Area
600 Mauna Loa Hwy., Kaunakakai