A new law was signed today that will drive public electric companies in Hawai’i to consider their customers first. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
The Hawai’i Ratepayer Protection Act will require the Public Utilities Commission, the PUC, to develop incentives for local electric companies to modernize and manage costs. Governor David Ige signed the measure into law, and said, performance-based rates will allow utilities to earn profits when they provide cheaper, cleaner energy.
“New data shows that the faster we move from out oil-based dependence, the more money we save and the more jobs we create.”
Governor Ige said Hawai’i leads the way with its goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 and there are no other state models to follow. Representative Chris Lee, chair of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, said the collective progress made so far in Hawai’i has benefitted consumers.
“That acceleration away from fossil fuels and toward cheaper renewables, clearly has already saved over a third of a billion dollars for local consumers and avoided fossil fuel costs and continues to decrease the cost of power over time, the quicker we get over our reliance on imported oil.”
Senator Stanley Chang introduced the measure and said no other state or state legislature is doing what Hawai’i is doing.
“Frankly, it’s a ‘moonshot bill.’ For the first time in the United States, a electric utility is not going to be charging raters either based on what the market can bear or based on what they can build, but, on affordability, reliability, customer satisfaction, public access to data, renewable energy and timely execution of business processes.”
The law takes effect July 1st. The PUC will then be required to create an incentive framework by January 1, 2020. Blue Plant executive director, Jeff Mikulina, says the PUC’s framework should be flexible.
“If we laid out a plan for how to get there today, we’re gonna be wrong in 5 years. Technology is evolving so quickly, we really don’t know what the landscape will look like. But, what we do know, is we need more renewable energy, we need more energy efficiency, we want to reduce customer bills, we want more reliability and now all of these things, the utility will be directly rewarded for, so it will align them with where we’re heading.”
For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.