HONOLULU — In response to a growing list of opponents of the proposed $4.3 billion merger of Hawaii Electric Industries and Florida-based NextEra Energy, NextEra officials said Tuesday that the deal will result in $1 billion in customer savings and economic benefits over five years.
The company offered the number after the state Consumer Advocate spoke against the on deal Monday, reported the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/1WhUsOq).
In a filing with the Public Utilities Commission, the Advocate claimed that the sale is not in the public interest. The agency called the savings overstated and an "illusory benefit."
The commission will have to approve the purchase before it goes forward. It has said it will make a decision by June.
NextEra had previously said it would save customers $60 million over four years. It did not provide any further details about the updated savings estimate.
"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.
"We have already made commitments to customer cost savings, employees and community causes that compare favorably to other utility mergers," the statement says. "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."
The deal has been publicly criticized by many, including Hawaii County, Gov. David Ige, Maui County, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism and the state office of Planning.
Ige said on June 20 that he opposes the sale, partly because NextEra called Hawaii's goal of 100 percent renewable electric energy by 2045 aggressive.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com