Hawaii groups push co-op utility after failed merger

Era cancels Hawaiian merger image

Hawaii groups push co-op utility after failed merger

NextEra's effort to buy Hawaiian Electric had been under review by utility regulators for months, and the merger faced strong opposition by state officials, who have been pressing utilities to use more renewables and reduce fossil fuel use.

Hawaiian Electric gapped down sharply Monday and declined throughout the session.

"As a result of the PUC's order, we have terminated our merger agreement", said Jim Robo, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy. In its release explaining the decision, the commission said it concluded that NextEra is fit, willing, and able to perform the services now offered by the HECO Companies but failed to demonstrate the bid is reasonable and in the public interest.

Steam generator Units 1, 2 and 3 at the Kahe power plant would be deactivated by the end of 2020, when each will be more than 50 years old. NextEra Energy loves renewable energy when it serves its own profit goals, but not when it gives customers more choice. "All of us at HEI, Hawaiian Electric and American Savings Bank remain committed to serving our customers, and we look forward to working together with communities across our state to realize the clean energy future we all want for Hawaii and to ensure a vibrant local economy".

Hawaii Gas, which has its own projects for importing LNG in bulk and in containers, previously told regulators that the partners could stifle competition in energy markets, including LNG-based power generation.

Dozens of renewable energy and environmental organizations intervened in the merger proceedings.

Juno Beach, FL and Honolulu, HI /PRNewswire/ - NextEra Energy, Inc. Its purchase of Hawaii Electric was seen by utility industry watchers as an opportunity for the company to test its handling of renewable energy and rooftop solar operations as the practice threatens to take hold across the nation. But co-op utilities are less common in cities.

With respect to the state's clean energy goals, the PUC concluded that notwithstanding NextEra's management capabilities, experience and finances, the applicants had failed to put forth near-term commitments for specific action tailored to Hawaii's unique circumstances and clean energy goals.

"They don't face the same regulatory challenges as they did in Hawaii", said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Stacy Nemeroff in a report.

He testified before the Hawaiian regulators on behalf of the Sierra Club, an opponent, and was critical of what he considered to be a lack of transparency by NextEra and FPL with regulators.

- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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