PAHOA, Hawaii – The pending merger between Florida-based NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric Industries has been the subject of a series of Open House events held across the islands, and last week the informational meetings came to Hawaii Island.
On April 13th, simultaneous meetings were held in Hilo and Pahoa. The two companies anticipated the need to assign top representatives to the Pahoa meeting, where the Puna residents are known to be both passionate and knowledgeable about energy issues, especially when it comes to the geothermal industry. Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Energy Hawaii, LLC and Jay Igancio, CEO of the Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO, the Big Island-based subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries) were both in attendance. We were told that the residents altered the agenda for the evening’s meeting, demanding a question and answer session be held before the open house format got underway.
Big Island Video News interviewed NextEra Energy Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Robert Gould before the meeting began.
Puna is home to the state’s only geothermal power plant, and many residents do not want to see expansion of the geotherml industry in their backyard. Residents pressed the power executives for their position on geothermal and other matters during the public Q & A session.
One question Puna’s energy consumers share with the rest of the state: what about those high electricity rates, which are some of the highest in the nation?
The crowd also grilled NextEra on their rumored plans for an undersea cable. NextEra has studied the feasibility of an undersea cable linking two or more islands in the past, and maintains such an endeavor could hold benefits for the state, but admits more studies are needed.
One group in attendance put accused NextEra of “smoke and mirrors” following the March announcement that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval to the companies’ proposed merger. Hawaii, Alaska and Texas do not fall under FERC jurisdiction.
Here is the joint media release that was issued in advance of the meetings:
Public Invited to Provide Input and Learn More about NextEra Energy and How Proposed Merger with Hawaiian Electric Industries Will Advance a More Affordable Clean Energy Future for Hawaii
Open Houses Scheduled from April 7 through April 16 on Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai
JUNO BEACH, Fla., and HONOLULU – March 23, 2015 – NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NEE) and Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc. and Maui Electric Company Limited (collectively referred to as Hawaiian Electric), subsidiaries of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. (NYSE:HE) (HEI), today announced that the companies will be hosting a series of 13 open house informational meetings across Hawaii to introduce residents to NextEra Energy and the benefits of the companies’ pending merger as well as to provide members of the public with the opportunity to provide input directly to company officials. The open houses will take place on Oahu, Hawaii Island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai from April 7 to April 16.
“Since we announced our merger late last year, we’ve been gratified at the reception we’ve received as well as the high level of interest in this important topic for Hawaii,” said Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Energy Hawaii, LLC. “NextEra Energy shares Hawaiian Electric’s vision of increasing renewable energy, modernizing its grid, reducing Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil, integrating more rooftop solar energy and, importantly, lowering customer bills. We recognize that addressing Hawaii’s energy challenges requires Hawaii-specific energy solutions, and that is why we look forward to meeting with and listening to residents across Hawaii. The meetings will provide us with the opportunity to receive valuable feedback while allowing residents to learn more about NextEra Energy and the significant near- and long-term benefits this merger will deliver to Hawaiian Electric customers and the state of Hawaii.”
“In selecting NextEra Energy as our partner, we will join a company that shares our community and environmental values, has a proven track record of lowering electric bills, is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun, and is committed to rooftop solar in Hawaii,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric’s president and chief executive officer. “We can’t imagine a better match to help us accelerate the clean energy transformation we all want for Hawaii. We hope our customers will take the opportunity to meet members of the NextEra Energy team and learn firsthand why NextEra Energy is the right partner to help us achieve a cleaner and more affordable energy future for Hawaii.”
To learn more about the benefits of the transaction, please visit www.forhawaiisfuture.com.
NextEra Energy, Inc.
NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE) is a leading clean energy company with consolidated revenues of approximately $17.0 billion, approximately 44,900 megawatts of generating capacity, which includes megawatts associated with noncontrolling interests related to NextEra Energy Partners, LP (NYSE: NEP), and approximately 13,800 employees in 27 states and Canada as of year-end 2014. Headquartered in Juno Beach, Fla., NextEra Energy’s principal subsidiaries are Florida Power & Light Company, which serves approximately 4.7 million customer accounts in Florida and is one of the largest rate-regulated electric utilities in the United States, and NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which, together with its affiliated entities, is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun. Through its subsidiaries, NextEra Energy generates clean, emissions-free electricity from eight commercial nuclear power units in Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa and Wisconsin. NextEra Energy has been recognized often by third parties for its efforts in sustainability, corporate responsibility, ethics and compliance, and diversity, and has been ranked in the top 10 worldwide for innovativeness and community responsibility as part of Fortune’s 2015 list of “World’s Most Admired Companies.” For more information about NextEra Energy companies, visit these websites: www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.
Hawaiian Electric Company
Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light, serve the islands of Oahu, Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Hawaii, home to 95 percent of the population of Hawaii. Hawaiian Electric’s parent company is Hawaiian Electric Industries (NYSE: HE).
In a changing world, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are taking the lead in adding renewable energy and developing energy solutions for their customers to achieve a clean energy future for Hawaii. For more information, visit www.hawaiianelectric.com.