“I am in complete favor of Hawaii’s 100% renewable energy goals by 2045, and I also do not support the NextEra buyout of Hawaiian Electric because of its minimalist approach to rooftop solar and savings to ratepayers. However, NextEra benefits to our ratepayers and its commitment to reach the state’s renewable energy goals lack credulity.
While I applaud my colleagues for bringing the cooperative option to the table as an alternative to NextEra, I believe this option misses the point.
First and foremost, we must strive for lower rates for consumers. I am not sure a cooperative business model can do this. The only model we have in Hawaii is Kauai Island Utility and its rates are among the highest in the State and nation.
Second, I do not believe the ownership structure in and of itself will make the difference. What Hawaii needs is a game plan that benefits consumers and our environment. Rooftop solar, wind, wave energy and bio-fuels all need to be used to together, and ownership structure does not determine this.
Third, and most importantly, the Public Utilities Commission exists to regulate the utility. I believe we have historically given it a pass for failing to hold HECO’s feet to the fire. We must hold it accountable to ratepayers, fuel adjustments, and the state of affairs that we have today.
Otherwise, I have no objections to considering a cooperative model.”