Hawaii Electric Light proposes 3.4% rate increase

Grid modernization, storm resilience, renewable energy work drive costs

Release Date: 12/14/2018

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HILO, Dec. 14, 2018 – Hawaii Electric Light Company today proposed an increase of Hawaii Island base rates to help pay for rising operating costs, including the use of new tools to modernize the grid and continue a comprehensive vegetation management plan to reduce outages.

Rate reviews are required by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) every three years.

The request is for a 3.4 percent increase in revenues, or $13.4 million over revenues at current effective rates. If approved, a typical residential bill for 500 kilowatt-hours on Hawaii Island would increase by $8.21 a month. Any increase would likely not take effect until late 2019.

Until the Kilauea eruption shut down the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) facility, Hawaii Island led the state in the use of renewable energy, increasing from 35 percent in 2010 to 63 percent in the first quarter of 2018. Even without PGV, Hawaii Electric Light continues to be a renewable energy leader, with wind, hydroelectricity and solar generating nearly half the island’s electricity.

Part of the proposed rate increase will help pay for continued improvements to the power grid to help integrate even more renewable resources while improving reliability. More than 12,000 customers now have private rooftop solar.

Other work includes:

  • Grid modernization, including the use of fault indicators to pinpoint outages faster and detect problems before they can interrupt service
  • Repairs to facilities damaged by the Kilauea eruption and increasing operation of power plants to cover loss of electricity from PGV
  • Increased vegetation management, including albizia trimming and removal, to continue progress that has resulted in an estimated 50 percent reduction in vegetation-related outages over the past five years
  • Repair and repower of the Waiau hydroelectric plant, expected to double its capacity and increase renewable energy on Hawaii Island
  • Upgrades, repair and replacement of utility equipment to improve reliability
  • Enhanced cybersecurity to keep the power grid secure and customer information safe