UH law group seeks community feedback on proposed HEI, NextEra merger

The newly formed Energy Justice Working Group (EJWG) at the William S. Richardson School of Law will begin reaching out during September for community feedback on the proposed merger between Hawaiian Electric Industries and Florida-based NextEra, one of the nation’s largest energy providers.

In a series of public meetings scheduled on the North Shore for September 19, 26 and 27, the group will provide a general overview of the proposed merger, and then form small listening groups so residents can share and discuss their thoughts, opinions and ideas.

The North Shore was chosen as a template for the island as a whole, and because of interest expressed by that community for a public discussion of plans, options and alternatives.

Associate professor Shalanda Baker, director of the school’s new Energy Justice Program, sees the community meetings as an opportunity to begin a statewide conversation about energy justice.

“With a goal of meeting 100 percent of its energy needs with renewable energy sources by the year 2045, the state is at an energy crossroads,” said Baker. “Through the merger listening sessions we have planned, the EJWG seeks to stimulate dialogue around a variety of themes and issues. The sessions mark the beginning of a deeper conversation concerning the energy transition, energy justice and energy democracy in Hawaii.”

As part of the discussions, the sessions will offer information on a variety of alternate approaches to energy delivery that are currently under consideration by stakeholder groups. These include municipal power, energy cooperatives and off-grid energy generation.

The information gathered will provide the basis for a comprehensive policy report that will discuss the range of community responses, reactions and questions about the proposed merger as well as energy delivery within the state. The final report will include policy recommendations for regulators weighing the public benefit aspects of the merger.

The meetings are free and open to the public. The schedule follows:

  • Saturday, September 19, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.: Haleiwa, Patagonia, North Shore Marketplace, 66-250 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa.
  • Saturday, September 26, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.: Kahuku High School, 56-490 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku.
  • Sunday, September 27, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.: Sunset Beach Elementary School, 59 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa.

The Energy Justice Working Group, which includes Baker and five law students, Sean Aronson, Claire Colegrove, Arielle Kramer, James Strange and Timothy Vandeveer, is part of the new Energy Justice Program launching this year within the Environmental Law Program (ELP) at the William S. Richardson School of Law.

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