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Thielen seeks to curb utilities costs

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 11:04 a.m. HST, Jan 15, 2013

HECO Hawaiian Electric Co. officials said November's decline in Oahu electric rates was mainly due to lower prices for the low-sulfur fuel oil that powers most of its generators. The rate is at its lowest since February.

Rep. Cynthia Thielen is questioning whether the Public Utilities Commission is properly regulating the cost of electricity in the state.

Thielen says she plans to introduce a bill Wednesday to create a task force to examine guaranteed returns for electric utilities.

Thielen says the commission has rarely denied rate increases proposed by Hawaiian Electric Co. She says the utility's rates have consistently gone up, creating hardships for residents.

Thielen says the law guarantees a reasonable rate of return on the utility's rate base but doesn't provide standards for what is reasonable.

She says her bill would also set up a committee of lawmakers to determine whether the Public Utilities Commission is properly enforcing return rates, leading toward savings for customers.

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4sanitysake wrote:
More bureaucracy at the expense of tax payers. If you want to help ensure the rates are reasonable help the PUC to force HECO to split its power generation from its power distribution business and you'll see more competition in the power generation feeding the distribution, providing a more transparent picture of actual costs and what a reasonable rate of return on investment should look like.
on January 15,2013 | 10:25AM
goodday wrote:
HECO doesn't have a monopoly on the generation side, AES and Kalaeloa Partners provides around 40% of the generation. If we want cheap rates we need HYDRO power and Coal. We unfortunately do not have resources good enough for any major hydro power dams and Coal is not allowed here because of the Hawaii clean energy act.
on January 15,2013 | 02:41PM
polekasta wrote:
Really doubt AES and Kalaeloa partners provide the 40% of power generation you speak of. I say that because FYI, AES uses coal as their primary fuel for power generation.
on January 15,2013 | 03:17PM
goodday wrote:
AES is 180MW and Kalaeloa is about 200MW so about 380 MW of a typical 1000-1200MW peak load so 30-40%. AES was built before the hawaii clean energy act was initiated by lingle.
on January 15,2013 | 08:43PM
Kealii wrote:
If you include all the independent power producers, they actually make up more than 40% of the islands' generation. And with wind and solar power being added, that number is going up.
on January 16,2013 | 02:38AM
braddah wrote:
Not sure if a task force is the answer but finally someone in the legislature is trying to do something to help the commoner!
on January 15,2013 | 11:03AM
AhiPoke wrote:
As long as HECO operates in a monopoly position their rates will continually go up at a rate higher than inflation. Eliminating the monopoly will bring rates down. The best examples that I can think of are what happened in the airline and telephone industries. In both cases deregulation has benefited consumers. When companies like HECO are guaranteed a profit no matter how inefficient they operate they will continue to raise their prices.
on January 15,2013 | 11:39AM
nalogirl wrote:
It is about time someone did something about thehigh cost of electricity. The PUC 99% of the time allows these increases. HECO knows they have a monopoly and they abuse it!
on January 15,2013 | 12:06PM
awahana wrote:
Rep. Thielen is trying to do the right thing. I saw her presentation on Wave Energy. She is dedicating herself and taking risks to do what's right for our community. You go girl.
on January 15,2013 | 12:33PM
islandsun wrote:
HECO is running a ponzi scheme and the PUC is a joke. Not a big Thielen fan but for this, I applaud her.
on January 15,2013 | 01:29PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Why stop at curbing the growth utilities costs? Why isn't LOWERING cost an objective. Thielen is on to something. I just hope she can get somewhere.
on January 15,2013 | 02:13PM
false wrote:
...and lets not stop with HECO. What about HMSA? Their rate increases are rarely if ever denied. But the trouble with investigating either of these two is that they make their operations appear so complicated on paper that no one can figure out whether rate increases are warranted or whether the need is being artificially manufactured for the sake of revenue growth.
on January 15,2013 | 03:32PM
goodday wrote:
you dont have to choose HMSA for your medical coverage. anyway if you look at it as paying for our elders care it makes you feel better that you have to pay so much. I'm sure everyone has at least one person close to them that had to take an extended stay in the hospital
on January 15,2013 | 08:46PM
bukaroos wrote:
Uncontrolled overtime. So many $200,000 plus employees, they put in the OT, but why? Guess if the CEO can make millions, the union employees can get in on a good thing. All under the guise of PUC regulated and all on the taxpayers dime. SHAME!
on January 15,2013 | 04:51PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Its a private utility regulated by the PUC. The taxpayers should demand the immediate reduction in Constance Lau's salary. She makes more money than the President of the United States.
on January 15,2013 | 04:57PM
peanutgallery wrote:
on January 16,2013 | 02:55AM
safari wrote:
Natural gas is the solution to pollution. Why invent the wheel? Conduct a personal financial audit of members who have any authority for raising utilities. As mentioned in this blog, split generation and distribution to be fair.
on January 16,2013 | 03:16AM
Kalli wrote:
Why is Constance Lau, the CEO of HECO/American Savings bank the highest paid executive in the state at over $5 Million? Is it because she runs her businesses so efficiently or because she knows how to fleece the rate payers the most?
on January 16,2013 | 04:40AM
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