NextEra Energy planned to takeover Hawaiian Electric Indiustries (HEI), yet the application was officially rejected by Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The rejection was announced on July 15, 2016.
NextEra Energy is a clean energy company that operates approximately 45,000MW of generating capacity in USA and Canada. HEI, on the other hand, supplies 95% of Hawaii’s population with power through its electric utilities. The two company announced the plan to merger in late 2014, and held meeting for the merger before being officially approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in March, 2015.
Nonetheless, Haiwaii PUC rejected the merger this July through polls that showed only about a third of the population supported the takeover. It is partially explained by NextEra Energy’s attitude to rooftop solar projects – NextEra Energy is reported to be opposite to rooftop solar. One poll even showed that a staggering 83% opposed the merger when told that NextEra would oppose the further installation of rooftop solar.
NextEra Energy and HEI issued a statement “We are in receipt of today's PUC order and are currently reviewing it” on July 15 as the first response to the rejection.
Applauds from Hawaiian groups
Hawaii environmental, consumer, and business groups including Earthjustice, Hawaii Solar Energy Association, Hawaii PV Coalition, Sierra Club of Hawaii, and the Alliance for Solar Choice joined to admire Hawaii PUC’s rejection of the merger.
The group claimed that NextEra Energy is unwilling to transit into a clean energy utility, and this is one of the reasons why the opposed the merger. They believe that NextEra Energy’s opposition to rooftop solar will ultimately harm Hawaii’s energy developments in aspects of energy infrastructure and demand.
Hawaii aims to 100% be renewable by 2045.
"Instead of envisioning a 21st century grid that enables customer options like rooftop solar, NextEra wanted to double-down on its 'build more, pay more' monopoly business," said Hajime Alabanza, Executive Assistant with Hawaii Solar Energy Association. "The Commission understood this isn't the right direction for Hawaii's customers."
Robert Harris, spokesperson for The Alliance for Solar Choice, emphasized that “nnovative technologies like rooftop solar, just like cellphones before it, are the wave of the future," explaining why the groups votes “No” to the merger.