On April 28, Governor Neil Abercrombie and the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued four mandates ordering Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) to “aggressively pursue” reduced electricity costs and allow more customers access to solar photovoltaic systems.
HECO has four months to file action plans with the PUC, showing their progress towards aligning their business model with customers’ interests and the state’s energy goals.
The PUC felt they had to step in after observing that “the HECO Companies appear to lack movement to a sustainable business model to address technological advancements and increasing customer expectations.”
“The traditional utility structures need to adapt to meet these challenges and to transform to become the utility business model of the future,” said PUC Commissioner Lorraine Akiba.
“The time for talk has ended. The time for action is upon us,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “I want to make it clear that where the utility and its regulations are concerned that this is not a series of recommendations, but rather an invitation and a guide path to action.”
HECO President and CEO Dick Rosenblum issued a statement that says:
“The PUC issued a comprehensive set of energy policies and guidelines. In this challenging, fast-changing energy environment, we welcome the PUC’s clear direction and roadmap. We’ve been working on many of these initiatives, and these directives confirm the energy policy priorities that will guide our strategies and implementation.
We have many of the building blocks already in place, including our grid modernization work, the initial phase of our smart grid project, and our progress in renewable energy – now at more than 18 percent. We’ve begun deactivating older fossil fuel plants, such as Honolulu Power Plant and others on Maui and Hawai‘i Island. And we’re taking other steps to lower costs to customers, such as use of low-cost liquefied natural gas as a transition fuel.
We understand the importance of moving quickly and see this as an unprecedented opportunity to move aggressively on a shared vision for the utility of the future and on our role in meeting the needs of our customers.
We look forward to working with the PUC and the Hawai‘i State Energy Office as we move forward to develop and execute these comprehensive plans.”