To: Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Office of the Director, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20580
Dear Mr. Leibowitz, January 31, 2012
Hawaii has the highest electric rates in the nation and has had a state-sponsored utility monopoly for most of Hawaiian Electric’s (HECO) 100+ year existence. The utility has become a dinosaur with a status-quo mentality and continues to obstruct progress toward independence from foreign oil. It must be removed from its god-like pedestal if Hawaii is to move forward to a renewable energy future. Please reference my personal complaint in this matter, # 32340030, as well as the attached petition complaint.
HECO’s stock price is up and its profits are soaring, not because it is a well managed, ethical company, but because of its rate increases. Its entire infrastructure is crumbling beneath our roads, with many island electrical companies sub-contracted by HECO to perform dangerous repairs and upgrades to deteriorated 7,200 V exposed underground wiring (no conduit to protect wiring) because HECO doesn't have the manpower or the skilled management to deal with its own failed policies over the past 50 years. It seems that not a day goes by without having one or more localized power failures on Oahu. The last power failure on my street lasted 10 hours on December 11, 2011. When President Obama was here for Christmas 2008, the entire island was without power overnight. Last year, much of the windward side of Oahu was without power for many hours.
Hawaii ratepayers are tired of being held hostage by HECO, including its Maui Electric ( MECO), and Hawaiian Electric Light Company ( HELCO ) subsidiaries while they constantly stand in the way of our progress toward an energy efficient future. Hawaii’s Energy Plan, based upon HECO profit requirements, is to become only 70% free of foreign oil in 20 years, with only 40% coming from renewables and 30% from efficiency. Yet, we can be 100% free of our dependence on foreign oil within 10 years if we set our minds to it, by using our most abundant renewable energy source, geothermal energy, for our base load energy, sun, wind, and ocean, but HECO keeps stifling these technologies, especially geothermal energy, so it can continue burning oil and bi-oil for another 20 years to preserve its profits at the expense of our environment, our residents, our communities, and our planet.
HECO owns this town like an outlaw gang from an Old Western town in a TV show. Everyone, including energy-related businesses, are afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, and politicians, news media, and others bow before their false energy god in idolatrous worship with unwavering commitment and allegiance to the rich and powerful instead of serving the needs of the people and future generations and being better stewards of the planet. So many people are beholden to HECO’s money that they are afraid to speak out against the company’s manipulative, stonewalling tactics and its abuse of power.
HECO’s new TV commercial bluntly warns ratepayers of higher rates to come, claiming innocence and blaming rising oil prices for those increases. The commercial promotes solar and wind but ignores geothermal energy. Yet, Hawaii has enough geothermal energy potential to power the entire state if we end this abusive monopoly. Shortly after airing this commercial, MECO denied a long time Maui resident connection of a modest 2.9 Kv PV system to the grid and insisted on a minimum $3,000 fee to do a feasibility study. HECO is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and tries in another TV ad to offer minimalistic energy-saving tips in its ongoing efforts to deceive & manipulate ratepayers into thinking that HECO is their angelic friend instead of their sworn devilish enemy.
A USDOJ attorney stated that section 2 of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act does not apply because HECO is not guilty of exclusionary conduct as a state-mandated utility, and that the only way to end this abusive monopoly with its stranglehold on our electric rates and our energy future is for the Hawaii State Legislature to deregulate the retail utility to open it up to competition. He also suggested that the FTC has very broad powers to protect consumers, and an FTC representative told me that if it sees a pattern of complaints, the FTC will file a class action lawsuit on behalf of the consumer.
On January 25, Hawaii Representative Denny Coffman of the Big Island introduced a long overdue, history-making, landmark piece of legislation, HB2400, to deregulate our electric utility industry. He also introduced numerous other bills related to geothermal energy to move Hawaii toward more geothermal energy and make implementation of HB2400 a successful endeavor. Other legislators have introduced a plethora of other energy bills. Our local Star*Advertiser covered these bills in its Monday edition Money story, “Breaking Down HECO”.
It has already been alleged on the street that HECO plans to spend lots of money like Washington lobbyists do on members of Congress to crush this bill to maintain its power, control, and influence over the people, businesses, and politicians of Hawaii.
I urge you to hear our plea for help to put pressure on our Legislature and Governor to pass and sign this strongly worded HB2400 bill and all of its companion geothermal bills into law without delay and without HECO interference to weaken the bill(s) and add loopholes benefiting HECO’s continuing obsessive, compulsive lust for profits at the expense of our future. Help us end this 100+ year old monopoly.
Do not be like our know-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Congress that can’t solve the simplest of problems in our country. Do not allow our plea to fall on death ears or pass the torch to someone else in Washington because you don’t want to get involved any more than our local DOJ, Ethics Commission, or Consumer Advocacy will get involved.
Enclosed is a petition complaint requesting that your office file a class action lawsuit on behalf of Hawaii’s ratepayers against HECO and other “co-conspirators” in their failed efforts to rip off ratepayers on Oahu and the Big Island to the tune of a half billion dollars over 20 years to fund a private company’s lab experiment with unproven technology so it would be 100% risk-free to its investors. Petition signatures continue to come in to this on-line petition since:
Most folks feel hopeless, helpless & powerless, but are not petition signers, including small energy businesses afraid of the Big Bad Wolf. Some out-of-state signers may have lived in Hawaii and were forced out by high living costs, or are otherwise familiar with the HECO monopoly because friends or family live here. Out-of country signatures are important because of the international trade infringement issues involved in the subject of the petition complaint.
The last statement of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address - this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - has yet to become a reality in this country because our government is by the rich and powerful for the rich and powerful, and those rich and powerful are destroying our country, and our planet.
It is time for those rich and powerful people, HECO management included, to step aside and for the voices of the people to be heard. It is time to stop this insane, insidious, obsessive, compulsive lusting for money, power, and control in this country and start focusing on the betterment of the human condition and better stewardship of Spaceship Earth. The playing field must be leveled, with everyone playing by the same set of rules of ethical conduct, honesty and integrity, openness and transparency, fair and honest profits, not dishonest, obscene profits. It is time for more common sense to prevail and for a bold new vision for our future to be implemented.
Public testimony on HB2400: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2012/Testimony/HB2400_TESTIMONY_EEP_02-02-12_.PDF
HB2400 Text: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2012/bills/HB2400_.pdf
Other Geothermal Bills: HB2689, HB2690, HB2691