According to the energy and utility industry news source UtilityDive.com, the Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative (HIEC) is attempting to block the proposed $4.3 billion takeover of Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) by NextEra Energy. The alternative electricity suppliers believe they can provide the island state with the utility they need at a much lower price than NextEra Energy.
This has become somewhat common in the U.S. as electricity remains one of the most valuable and sought after resources. In fact, U.S. electricity use in 2013 was more than 13 times greater than electricity use in 1950.
Fortunately, through modern advances in technology and equipment alternative electricity suppliers are able to compete with already established providers, which ultimately results in lower costs for the consumer. In 1995, generation accounted for about two-thirds of the price of electricity. Today, the cost of generating electrons currently accounts for less than half of the price of electricity, according to the Edison Electric Institute.
In this specific case, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will decide whether or not the proposed merger will go through. NextEra has reported that they will be able to save customers about $400 over the course of five years. However, the cooperative-style, nonprofit HIEC believes they can save consumers, “as much as $113 million on the existing HELCO rate base and up to $234 million including investments to modernize the grid over four years.”
The final decision isn't expected to come down until June 2016. Hawaii regulators rejected NextEra's Hawaiian Electric's Power Supply Implementation Plan last month for not aligning with the state's clean energy goals, which could foreshadow a potential win for alternative electricity.