State responds to looming deadline of Hawaiian Electric-NextEra deal

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With a big deadline looming and possible interest in another company, what will NextEra Energy do about its proposed deal with Hawaiian Electric?

NextEra can walk away from its proposed takeover after June 3.

A recent news report said NextEra is interested in a Texas company.

“Does that have any influence on your decision?” KHON2 asked.

“Well that’s from a news report. That’s not in evidence. It doesn’t affect us whatsoever,” said Randy Iwase, chair of the Public Utilities Commission. “This chatter is not in the record before us. It is not relevant. It is not material and it is not persuasive.”

What does matter to Iwase is the more than 100,000 pages of briefs and transcripts the commission must go through and 22 days of PUC hearings held this year. Commissioners will receive a PUC staff report and recommendation on the proposed takeover, review it and then vote.

“They have the opportunity, each and every one of us, to go over all the documents, all the briefs that have been filed and come to a conclusion on our own. It does not have to follow the staff recommendation,” Iwase said.

Although NextEra can exit the Hawaiian Electric deal after June 3, Iwase says commissioners are not bound by any deadline.

He would not say when a decision would be made, but if the deal with NextEra does not work out, a deal with another company might.

Rep. Chris Lee, D, chair of the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, said others are interested.

“Over the past year, I’ve talked with probably about at least half a dozen, not to say that is necessarily the route we should go,” Lee said.

Lawmakers just approved $1.2 million to study other utility options, which includes having the utility run by the city, or a co-op.

“But all these things, no matter what the proposal is, have come out with consistently more public benefit than what NextEra has put on the table,” Lee said.

NextEra and Hawaiian Electric declined to comment.

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