HELCO requests 4.2 percent rate hike

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Rachel Wagenman

The Hawaii Electric Light Co. said Thursday it is seeking a 4.2 percent rate increase, which if approved by the Public Utilities Commission, would not take effect until next year at the earliest.

Approving this request means a typical household using 500 kilowatt-hours would see their monthly bill increase by $8.32.

HELCO has not increased their rates since 2009 when the PUC approved a 1.3 percent increase.

According to HELCO, these increased rates will be used to fund more renewable energy projects and clean energy integration programs,

including: advanced wind forecasting systems, computerized models and tools to analyze integration of more distributed, customer-sited solar power on the grid, and enhanced sensors and tools to help system operators manage more variable clean energy on the grid.

"Nearly 60 percent of our customers' electric bills go to pay the cost of fuel and purchased power. So it makes sense for HELCO to aggressively pursue renewable energy technologies that are not dependent upon oil and that will reduce the cost of electric service in the long run," said Jay Ignacio, HELCO president.

HELCO's rate request also includes funding for grid maintenance and system upgrades.

This 4.2 percent rate increase request, or $19.8 million, is ultimately subject to approval by the PUC and is part of the decoupling system, which is designed to prevent larger though less frequent rate increases.

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