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NextEra, Hawaiian Electric Seek 'Lokahi' With Governor

Prospective merger partners NextEra Energy Inc. and Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. (HEI) Monday emphasized their commitment to the Aloha State's renewables-only by 2045 energy plans after Gov. David Ige reversed his support for more liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports. The companies are in agreement, they said, in an announcement that mentioned natural gas only once and LNG not at all.

"We fully embrace Hawaii's goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045 and believe this partnership represents the best path forward to achieving this goal -- the most ambitious of its kind in the nation," said Eric Gleason, president of NextEra Energy Hawaii LLC. "...[W]e are well positioned, alongside Hawaiian Electric, to partner with the state to achieve its 100% renewable portfolio standard by 2045, as well as integrate more rooftop solar, modernize the electric grids and lower customer bills."

HEI is composed of subsidiaries Hawaiian Electric Co. Inc., Hawaii Electric Light Co. Inc. and Maui Electric Co. Ltd. NextEra and HEI's enhanced merger commitments includes 50 that are new. The companies said they are intended to accelerate the transition to 100% renewable energy.

"These commitments, which were made as part of filings with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC), strengthen and underscore the broad range of benefits that the merger will deliver, including customer savings of nearly $465 million and economic benefits to Hawaii of approximately $500 million in the first five years following the close of the merger – a total of nearly $1 billion in customer savings and economic benefits," the companies said.

The merger enhancements follow remarks by Ige at a recent conference during which he recanted his support for LNG imports and said LNG would be a distraction from the state's goal of all-renewable energy (see Daily GPIAug. 28). Last year, Hawaiian Electric said it was considering accessing some of the imported containerized LNG supply sourced by Hawaii Gas (see Daily GPIOct. 30, 2014Sept. 3, 2014; April 10, 2014). Ige said he is now opposed to using LNG to fuel power generators.

The only mention of natural gas in the NextEra-HEI announcement refers to NextEra utility Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL). "Since 2001, FPL's investments in high-efficiency, natural gas energy centers have enabled the company to cut its use of foreign oil by more than 99% -- from more than 40 million bbl to less than 1 million bbl annually today. Since 2001, the effectiveness of these investments has saved FPL customers more than $7.5 billion on fuel costs and prevented more than 85 million tons of carbon emissions."

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