(BIVN) – The Hawai‘i Electric Light Company has proposed a new rate increase “to help pay for rising operating costs, including the use of new tools to modernize the grid and continue a comprehensive vegetation management plan to reduce outages,” the company said in a media release.
HELCO is seeking a 3.4% percent increase in revenues, or $13.4 million over revenues at current effective rates.
Rate reviews are required by the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission every three years. If the rate increase request is approved, “a typical residential bill for 500 kilowatt-hours on Hawai‘i Island would increase by $8.21 a month,” HELCO said.
HELCO says the rate increase will help pay for “continued improvements to the power grid to help integrate even more renewable resources while improving reliability,” adding that that more than 12,000 customers now have private rooftop solar.
HELCO says the increase will also help with:
- Grid modernization, including the use of fault indicators to pinpoint outages faster and detect problems before they can interrupt service
- Repairs to facilities damaged by the Kīlauea eruption and increasing operation of power plants to cover loss of electricity from PGV
- Increased vegetation management, including albizia trimming and removal, to continue progress that has resulted in an estimated 50 percent reduction in vegetation-related outages over the past five years
- Repair and repower of the Waiau hydroelectric plant, expected to double its capacity and increase renewable energy on Hawai‘i Island
- Upgrades, repair and replacement of utility equipment to improve reliability
- Enhanced cybersecurity to keep the power grid secure and customer information safe
In a media release, HELCO also stated:
Until the Kīlauea eruption shut down the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) facility, Hawai‘i Island led the state in the use of renewable energy, increasing from 35 percent in 2010 to 63 percent in the first quarter of 2018. Even without PGV, Hawai‘i Electric Light continues to be a renewable energy leader, with wind, hydroelectricity and solar generating nearly half the island’s electricity.
Any rate increase, if approved, would likely not take effect until late 2019.