By BY CATHY BUSSEWITZ
HONOLULU (AP) - The Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection has approved the nomination of Randall Iwase to lead the state's Public Utilities Commission.
Iwase sailed through the confirmation hearing Tuesday. As a former state senator he faced a friendly audience.
The Public Utilities Commission has the responsibility to review NextEra Energy's proposed takeover of Hawaiian Electric.
Iwase says he's not required to hold public hearings about the acquisition, but he thinks it would be a good idea. He told lawmakers he hopes to hold a public hearing on every island.
Iwase also says the commission is understaffed. He's been hiring attorneys and researchers and says he wishes he could double his staff.
Iwase's nomination now goes to the full Senate for a vote, which is expected within the next few days.