Hawaii activists’ push to ditch HECO and transform the utility business model

May 28, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ News

A group of citizens is rising up against the proposed merger of the Hawaii Electric Industries (HEI) and NextEra Energy, and demanding a voice in decisions about their energy future.


If their rebellion succeeds, Hawaii residents will find out if their complaints about HECO are due to the nature of rooftop solar and its integration onto the grid, or if the solar market in Hawaii is being held back by the utility’s intransigence.

“Hawaii is at a crossroads. We have disruptive technologies that are changing how customers expect to get energy,”

explained Spokesperson Rob Harris on behalf of KULOLO (Keep Utilities Locally Owned, Locally Operated), a group pushing for alternative utility models in Hawaii, and TASC (The Alliance for Solar Choice), a founding member of KULOLO.

In response to their concerns about the merger, local leaders have initiated information-gathering processes to better understand how they might form an electric cooperative (co-op) or municipal utility (muni) to replace the HEI subsidiaries known collectively as HECO.

“We believe the Utility 2.0 model might be a publicly owned one,” Harris said.

NextEra Energy has been asked by Hawaii’s legislators, regulators, and energy industry stakeholders to detail its plans for Hawaii’s energy future, explained Attorney Isaac Moriwake, on behalf of the Sierra Club, another founding member of KULOLO.

“So far, they have insisted they are not going to provide any specific plans until the merger is approved,” he said.

“That is exactly backwards. How can the PUC ensure that NextEra is the right fit for Hawaii without such disclosure?”

Recent polls show most of the state’s population has not yet focused on the question, but a slight majority is opposed to the merger, and that gives activists hope that they have a special opportunity to fundamentally transform the utility business model on the islands.

Read more http://www.utilitydive.com/news/inside-hawaii-activists-push-to-ditch-heco-and-transform-the-utility-busin/399492/