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Thielen seeks to curb utilities costs

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    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.
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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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