NextEra Energy Inc., the company looking to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries, said Tuesday the deal will result in $1 billion in customer savings and economic benefits over five years.
The company offered the number in response to the state Consumer Advocate coming out against the $4.3 billion sale on Monday. The Advocate said in a filing with the Public Utilities Commission that the sale of HEI to NextEra is not in the public interest.
“We respect the views of the Consumer Advocate and we will continue to listen, learn and constructively engage with people throughout the state,” said Rob Gould spokesman for NextEra, in a written statement. “As we are in the beginning stages of the PUC review process, we are confident we will find more common ground as we further demonstrate the strong public interest benefits of this merger. To that end, our filed merger plan anticipates almost $1 billion in customer savings and economic benefits for Hawaii in the first five years after closing and we have already made commitments to customer cost savings, employees and community causes that compare favorably to other utility mergers. But what this story is really about is Hawaii’s future – a more affordable, 100 percent renewable (electric) energy future – and we firmly believe that this merger represents the best way to get there.”
NextEra, which previously said it would save ratepayers $60 million over four years, did not provide any further details about the updated savings estimate.
On June 20, Gov. David Ige said he opposes the sale of HEI to Florida-based NextEra in part because NextEra had said Hawaii’s goal of 100 percent renewable electric energy by 2045 was aggressive.
Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono said Monday NextEra has not clearly laid out how its purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries will result in significant benefits for consumers. The agency said the savings NextEra offered during the review were too broad and overstated creating an “illusory benefit.”
The consumer advocate said NextEra and HEI must provide an updated economic impact analysis for at least five years following the transaction that includes planned changes in employment at the utilities. NextEra must also provide planned changes of spending on services and supplies located in Hawaii as well as planned changes in customer bills.
The PUC must approve the purchase before it can go forward. The PUC has said it will make a decision by June.