Billionaire’s company in talks to buy electric grid on Lanai

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2012 file photo, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison gestures while giving a...
FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2012 file photo, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison gestures while giving a keynote address at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. Ellison bought a small Hawaii airline Tuesday, Feb, 26, 2013, less than a year after he bought most of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)(Eric Risberg | AP)
Published: Jan. 8, 2020 at 4:57 AM HST
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HONOLULU (AP) — A company owned by billionaire Larry Ellison is in negotiations to purchase the power plant and electric grid on Lanai, officials said.

Hawaiian Electric Co. said it has entered exploratory discussions with Pulama Lanai for its assets on Lanai, Hawaii’s sixth- largest island.

The co-founder and chairman of Oracle Corporation already owns 98% of the island.

Pulama Lanai is investigating the purchase as a way to achieve a quicker transition from oil-based power to 100% renewable energy, the company said in a statement.

“We are by far its largest customer and have a vested interest in building a modernized grid that will speed Lanai’s progress toward being energy independent,” the company said.

The purchase would result in lower electricity bills for about 3,000 island residents, who often pay more for electricity than most other Hawaii residents, Pulama Lanai said.

The December cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity was 41.1 cents on Lanai. The cost was 34.8 cents on Molokai, 33.8 cents on Hawaii island, 33.4 cents on Kauai, 30.3 cents on Maui, and 27.1 cents on Oahu, Hawaiian Electric said.

Pulama Lanai plans to include Lanai residents and other groups in purchase discussions.

A purchase would be subject to approval from the state Public Utilities Commission, which regulates electrical rates and would hold a public hearing on a transaction. A deal would also be analyzed by the state consumer advocate.

Ellison purchased the majority of Lanai in 2012 for about $300 million from the owner of agriculture and real estate company Castle & Cooke Inc.

Ellison has publicized his intention to make the island more economically and environmentally stable.

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