Lawmakers call for exploration of public owned utilities for Hawaii

Concerns over the future of our public utilities brought more than 40 state and county leaders together Thursday in a commitment to put the best interest of the public first.

They’re especially focused on the proposed merger between HECO and NextEra, and feel that the partnership will not provide savings to customers.

City Council member Kymberly Pine said that “as allowed to us in the constitution that states that all of our resources, especially our utilities, are not supposed to be for profit. They are there to support the people.”

“People want cheaper prices,” said State Representative Chris Lee. “They want renewable energy, they want accountability, and they want the ability to generate their own power.” Lee is the chairman of energy and environmental protection committee in the state legislature.

Officials continue to look into the potential of locally owned public utilities, such as co-ops, like on the Neighbor Islands.

“As Republicans and Democrats, we have differences,” said legislative minority leader Beth Fukumoto-Chang (R). “But, we can all agree that the skyrocketing cost of electricity is detrimental to local families. Until NextERA provides a framework for customer savings, it would be irresponsible not to explore options like co-ops and other alternatives.”

“As more and more people seek ways to become energy self-sufficient, we need to rethink our traditional electrical power distribution,” said Oahu City Council chairman Ernie Martin. “As the future heads towards decentralized systems, now is the time for us to explore public ownership as an option that could best serve the needs of Oahu residents.”

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