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Why The NextEra & Hawaiian Utilities Deal Fell Apart (Study)

NextEra Energy is a very large company with about 14,000 employees that constructs, develops, and operates power plants. It has about 45,000 MW of generating capacity at all its facilities.

A long process that could have resulted in NextEra taking over the Hawaiian electric utilities just ended with no merger occurring. According to a study, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission had five significant concerns when it came to the applicant (NextEra) and its ability to serve the public interest:

  1. Benefits to ratepayers
  2. Risks to ratepayers
  3. Nextera’s clean energy commitments
  4. The potential change’s effect on local governance
  5. The potential effect on competition in local energy markets

As far as the ratepayer benefits were concerned, the study stated that what was offered did not seem to be quite as substantive as was expected, “…the Commission observed that a large portion of these estimated benefits are premised on assumptions and/or expectations about the future.”

Of course, the details are much more complicated than that, and you can read more about them here. The Commission acknowledged that NextEra has experience in renewable energy, but perhaps not enough in the situations like those in Hawaii where residential solar power has grown, but also where there have been issues with integrating it into the grid system.

After the deal fell through, NextEra exited some potential Hawaiian energy projects: an undersea electricity transmission cable between Maui and Oahu and a proposed wind farm on Lanai. It will also not review the state utility’s power supply improvement plan, which has received some disapproval, “The plan’s been criticized in the past because it relied very heavily on maintaining the fossil fuel generation fleet for considerable amount of time, instead of focusing on leveraging new technology and new rate designs to much more cheaply move toward renewable power here in Hawaii, ” explained state Rep. Chris Lee.


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