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Monthly electric bills will go up next month

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Hawaiian Electric Co. residential bills will rise by an average of 71 cents next month to pay for energy-saving incentives.

With the increase, a residential customer using 600 kilowatts of electricity per month will pay $3.51 into the “public benefits fund,” up from $2.86 in 2010, according to the Public Utilities Commission, which recently approved the hike. The average payment was $1.19 a month when the fund was launched in 2009.

Money from the fund is used to pay for various incentives, including rebates for the purchases of solar water heaters, energy-efficient appliances and compact fluorescent light bulbs. The fund is projected to generate $35.6 million next year with 45 percent of the benefits going to residential customers and 55 percent to commercial customers, according to the PUC.

Although HECO collects the money, the fund is administered by a private contractor that runs the state’s energy-efficiency programs. The PUC, with input from the state Consumer Advocate, has regulatory authority over the fund.

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