Power prices, infrastructure top concerns at 1st hearing on HECO buyout

Published: Nov. 30, 2015 at 10:31 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2015 at 11:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Public Utilities Commission's hearings on NextEra Energy's $4.3 billion buyout of Hawaiian Electric Co. kicked off Monday and many of the questions centered on how much NextEra will invest to upgrade HECO's infrastructure and how much consumers will end up paying.

NextEra is proposing to spend $30 billion over the next three decades to beef up its grid and help the company achieve the state's goal of getting 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

Businesses organizations like the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and HECO's union like the deal. But lawmakers, including Gov. David Ige, solar companies and consumers oppose it.

"If these costs are passed on to local consumers it means potentially billions or tens of billions of dollars in added costs on our local electric bills," said state Rep. Chris Lee.

Lois Crozer of Lanikai says her monthly bill ranges from $200 to $500 and thinks a merger would translate to even higher costs for consumers.

"I'm worried that a company coming from the mainland is not going to be concerned with our best interest and more with their profits," Crozer said.

NextEra says HECO will requires huge investment in its infrastructure and that it provides the cheapest way to do that.

"We can help accelerate the investments that are necessary for the future to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. And we believe we can do it at lower cost, said NextEra spokesman Rob Gould.

The PUC hearings will continue through the middle of next month.

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