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Friday, March 22, 2024
HECO's Secret Wildfire Plan: Congress Demands Answers
By News Release @ 5:28 PM :: 1454 Views :: Maui County, Energy, Ethics, Congressional Delegation

E&C Leaders Seek Further Information in Investigation of Maui Wildfires

News release from House Energy and Commerce Committee, Mar 22, 2024

Washington, D.C. — The House Energy and Commerce Committee is continuing its oversight of the deadly Maui fires that happened in August 2023. In a new letter to Hawaiian Electric CEO Shelee Kimura, Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Chair Jeff Duncan (R-SC) have asked for clarification on testimony and documents provided to the Committee.

KEY LETTER EXCERPT:

“We appreciate your testimony before the Committee on Energy and Commerce at our September 28, 2023, hearing titled, 'Investigating the Role of Electric Infrastructure in the Catastrophic Maui Wildfires' and for your cooperation in supplying additional information in response to our October 13, 2023, additional questions for the hearing record (QFRs). We continue to keep the people of Maui in our thoughts as recovery efforts continue.  

“As we continue our investigation, questions persist both about the events on the days the wildfires occurred (August 7 and 8, 2023) and about Hawaiian Electric Company and its subsidiaries’ (collectively, HECO) 'Wildfire Mitigation Plan' (WMP). For example, in HECO’s October 27, 2023, response to the Committee’s QFRs, you described the weather updates that HECO received on the dates of the wildfires. However, you also stated that HECO 'did not learn until after the windstorm had passed that the winds had been higher than forecast.' 

“Additionally, we continue to have questions about the WMP and the timeline of its creation and development. HECO stated that it began developing the WMP in 2019 and finalized it in 2023. However, the Hawaii Public Utility Commission revealed it had not seen the document prior to the fires and only learned of its existence when HECO referenced it in HECO’s September 19, 2023, response to the Committee’s August 30, 2023, letter requesting more information about HECO’s wildfire mitigation measures. 

“As fires involving electrical equipment continue to threaten lives, property, and energy reliability, the Committee has a responsibility to understand how these disasters unfold and how they can be prevented, so we can utilize this knowledge and findings in developing and overseeing the implementation of our national energy infrastructure policies.” 

The Chairs have requested a response to their additional questions by April 3, 2024. 

CLICK HERE to read the full letter. 

TIMELINE OF INVESTIGATION:

  • August 30, 2023: E&C Republican Leaders Open Investigation into Hawaiian Electric Following Deadly Maui Fires 
  • September 14, 2023: Chair Rodgers and Griffith Announce Oversight Hearing on Maui Fires, Invite Utilities and State Energy Officials to Appear 
  • September 28, 2023: Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight Subcommittee Hosts Hearing on Maui Fires 
  • October 18, 2023: Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Griffith Presses Maui Officials for Additional Information Following Oversight Hearing on Catastrophic Fires 

COVERAGE:

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