Gov., PUC mandate HECO to modernize

By Pamela Young
Published On: Apr 29 2014 03:45:52 PM HST
Updated On: Apr 29 2014 11:01:41 PM HST

The state wants better, cheaper power from Hawaiian Electric companies.

HONOLULU -

After dozens of hearings and thousands of pages of testimony, the Public Utilities Commission is ordering Hawaiian Electric Companies to take immediate steps to modernize its vision of an energy -efficient Hawaii.

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Gov. Neil Abercrombie and PUC commissioners announced on Tuesday four mandates to correct what they consider "lack of movement" within HECO to embrace new technology and meet customer needs.

HECO has 120 days to file action plans with the PUC that include policies to improve reliability and demand response.

Despite the state leading the nation in solar use per capita, the PUC says HECO needs to do much more.

"The traditional utility structures need to adapt to meet these challenges and transform to become the utility business model of the future," said PUC Commissioner Lorraine Akiba.

"There is no turning back," said Gov. Abercrombie.  "This is the most significant day in Hawaii, in its energy future, that we have ever had."

One of the mandates asks Maui Electric to address energy transformation issues and file action plans for future operation.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, HECO President and CEO Dick Rosenblum 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."

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