The sale of Hawaiian Electric to the Florida-based company NextEra Energy passed a key vote Wednesday. Shareholders approved the deal with 76% of outstanding shares voting ‘yes.’ HPR’s Molly Solomon was at the meeting and has this report.
Hawaiian Electric shareholders gathered for a second time to vote on whether or not to approve the company’s sale to NextEra Energy. Last month, the utility fell short of the necessary 75% approval that’s required under state law.
But Wednesday’s meeting saw different results. Of the outstanding shares, 76% voted yes, 8% voted no, with the remaining 16% not voting at all. “We were interested in NextEra Energy and what they’ve done in the renewable area,” said James Price, one of the shareholders who voted for the deal. “We felt it would be an advantage for Hawai‘i to get into renewables with NextEra.”
But not everyone supports the Florida company. “We’re very disappointed at all the unanswered questions. It’s not a consumer friendly company,” said shareholder Sarah Pebble. She and her husband Dwayne both voted against the deal. “I hope if we get them, they change their ways and use us as a great example of how to do renewable energy right. But I’m not too optimistic.”
Hawaiian Electric Board Chair Jeff Watanabe declined to be interviewed, but said in a press statement that the approval marks a significant milestone in efforts to accelerate Hawai‘i’s clean energy transformation by bringing the expertise and resources of NextEra Energy.
The deal now goes to the state’s Public Utilities Commission. Originally Hawaiian Electric and NextEra anticipated the deal would be completed by December, but PUC Chair Randy Iwase says that’s not likely. “Well that’s their timeline, that’s not ours,” said Iwase. “There’s a lot of work that has to go into this: a lot of deliberation, a lot of paper, and hours of testimony. The decision’s going to take a while and it’s not going to be done in a couple days.”
Right now Iwase estimates that decision could come in June of next year at the earliest.
Here is a breakdown of the final HEI shareholders vote: