PUC Rejects NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Deal

Jul 15, 2016

Connie Lau, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries announcing plans to merge with NextEra Energy in December, 2014.
Credit Molly Solomon
(L-R) Lorraine Akiba (Commissioner); Randy Iwasa, PUC Chair, PUC Recorder, Mike Champley (then-Commissioner), Tom Gorak, PUC Attorney (newly named commissioner)
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

No Deal for NextEra

Late Friday afternoon, Hawai‘i’s Public Utilities Commission rejected the proposed merger between NextEra and the Hawaiian Electric Companies.

The 2-0 decision did NOT include recently-appointed Commissioner Tom Gorak.  He said he supported the decision but abstained from the vote, because of “the concerns raised by some regarding his participation in the decision.”

The PUC released a written statement announcing its decision---finding that NextEra “failed to demonstrate that the application is reasonable and in the public interest.”  The Commission listed five fundamental areas of concern—starting with benefits and risks to ratepayers.

Other concerns included the companies’ commitment to clean energy, and the uncertainty of local control, or corporate governance.  Finally, the Commission raised concerns about the impact of the deal on competition in local energy markets.  Robert Harris of the Alliance for Solar Choice was an intervenor in the case who opposed the deal, and praised the decision by the PUC.

The PUC says it remains open to hearing other merger proposals if Hawaiian Electric seeks another deal---with NextEra or anyone else.  Governor David Ige thanked the PUC for its work and said “the ruling gives us a chance to reset and refocus on our goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2045.

A statement from NextEra Energy said: “We are in receipt of today’s PUC order and are currently reviewing it.”

PUC Votes to Not Approve the NextEra Energy $4.3B Purchase of Hawaiian Electric Companies by Hawaii Public Radio on Scribd

Release Supplement by Hawaii Public Radio on Scribd