Maui News

Hawaiʻi Lawmakers Urge Exploration of Publicly Owned Utilities

September 3, 2015, 4:24 PM HST
* Updated September 3, 4:25 PM
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Photo credit: Hawaii House of Representatives - Majority.

Photo credit: Hawaii House of Representatives – Majority.

By Maui Now Staff

More than forty state and county leaders representing all islands joined together in urging the exploration of publicly owned utilities in Hawaiʻi.

The group, which included Democrats, Republicans and Independents, plans to examine the potential of public utilities owned by the people.

“Public utilities don’t need higher rates to make profits for shareholders, and as a result they tend to have significantly lower rates than for-profit utilities across the country. We have an obligation to explore this option, especially if it can save residents a lot more money in the long run,” said Representative Chris Lee (D-Kailua, Waimanalo) who serves at the chairman of Energy and Environmental Protection Committee.

Photo credit: Hawaii House of Representatives - Majority.

Photo credit: Hawaii House of Representatives – Majority.

“As Republicans and Democrats we have differences. But, we can all agree that the skyrocketing cost of electricity is detrimental to local families. Until NextERA provides a framework for customer savings, it would be irresponsible not to explore options like co-ops and other alternatives,” said Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto-Chang (R-Mililani, Mililani-Mauka) in a joint announcement.

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In addition to state legislators from each island, key county officials seeking to examine the potential of locally-owned public utilities such as co-ops included: Oʻahu City Council Chair Ernie Martin; Hawaiʻi Island County Council Chair Dru Kanuha; Kauaʻi County Council Chair Mel Rapozo; Maui County Councilmember Don Guzman; Hawaiʻi Island County Councilmember Margaret Willie; and Hawaiʻi Island County Councilmember Karen Eoff.

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