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Hawaiian Electric says it will not seek additional rate hike

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 4:21 p.m. HST, Jun 30, 2014

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. said on Monday it will not seek a rate increase in the current three-year rate cycle.

The company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that "it is foregoing a rate increase request in recognition that its customers are already in a challenging high electricity bill environment."

Lynne Unemori, Hawaiian Electric vice president for corporate relations, said in a statement: "We know how tough high electric bills have been on our customers. So even though we could have asked for an added rate hike at this time as part of our regulatory schedule, we're not. What we are doing is focusing our efforts on lowering customers' bills by going after the main driver of high bills -- expensive imported oil. That's why we're pursuing more renewable energy, lower-cost liquefied natural gas as an alternative to expensive oil, and modern smart grids."

The company said it plans to file its next rate case in 2017 unless circumstances change.

Separate from the normal three-year rate case cycles, Hawaiian Electric has been getting rate adjustments each year since 2011.

Earlier this month, the state Public Utilities Commission approved the latest rate adjustment for  Hawaiian Electric Co., the Hawaii Electric Light Co. on Hawaii island, and Maui Electric Co. as part of the annual adjustment designed to compensate the utility for increased capital expenditures and declines in sales over the past year, a practice known as "decoupling."

The decoupling increase meant a typical Oahu household using 600 kilowatt-hours a month would have seen its bill rise by $4.89. The decoupling increase will help pay for more than $200 million in capital projects placed in service on Oahu in 2013 and 2014, HECO said.

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