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Hawaiian Electric 'extremely disappointed' after 2.5% interim base rate increase

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission issued an interim decision approving an increase in Hawaiian Electric Co. Inc.'s first base-rate increase in more than six years.

The decision will increase the monthly bill of the typical Oahu resident by 2.5%, or approximately $2.82 per 500 kWh. That is less than what was initially requested by the Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. subsidiary and what was agreed to in a settlement with the state division of consumer advocacy. The rate hike will help Hawaiian Electric increase reliability for its customers and integrate more renewable energy, according to a Dec. 18 release.

"After going six years without a base rate increase, while investing in work to move Hawai'i to reach 100 percent renewable energy in full support of our state's recently adopted policy, we're extremely disappointed with this outcome," Hawaiian Electric President and CEO Alan Oshima said. "It's especially disappointing because we worked for months to achieve what we believed was a fair negotiated settlement with the Consumer Advocate that was in the best interest of customers."

In the news release, Hawaiian Electric said regulators interpreted the utility's decision to forgo a rate increase in 2014 as meaning that it was giving up its chance to fully recover pension expenses from 2015 to 2017. Hawaiian Electric said it was clear in its 2014 filing that it intended to seek full pension recovery at a later time.

The commission will determine the effective date of the new rate and will issue a final decision on the rates at a later point. Hawaiian Electric said it plans to file a motion for reconsideration this week.