Petition to make HECO publicly owned, non-profit - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Petition to make HECO publicly owned, non-profit

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Could Hawaiian Electric become a publicly owned, not-for-profit entity?  One group thinks so, and is petitioning Governor Ige to look into the possibility of doing so.

Supporters say the benefit to consumers is in whose best interests are, and could be served by the utility.

"The only thing a publicly owned utility is going to care about is how do we best serve our customers. Whereas a privately owned utility constantly has to think about its shareholders," said Robert Harris of the Alliance for Solar Choice.
Harris says the downstream effect for consumers, as observed in other areas of the country that have such utilities, is lower electricity rates and better customer service.
"Government can actually access capital cheaper than any private entity could, and we could potentially hire any management company we wanted across the country, and try to find the best one that's really going to make sure we get the best service in Hawaii that we can," said Harris.
Hawaii County and Maui County are reportedly interested, and there are multiple options available.  Kauai has a cooperative or co-op, which places control of the organization in the hands of employees and the patrons it serves.
"There's also a possibility of municipalization where the counties take over power generation in their region," added Harris.
The promise of lower rates and higher customer care may seem like a pipe dream to some, but Harris says taking control of the utility is actually entirely feasible.
"Any utility operating in the state of Hawaii is operating because it has a franchise granted to it by the legislature.  So at any time the legislature could take that franchise
away or give it to someone else".
To sign the petition, click HERE
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