The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the planned acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Industries by Florida based-NextEra Energy, according to a joint press release issued by the two companies on Monday.

NextEra announced in December that it was planning to purchase Hawaii’s major electric utility as part of a $4.3 billion deal.

The purchase includes Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oahu, Hawaii Electric Light Co. on the Big Island and Maui Electric Co., which serves Maui, Lanai and Molokai.

As part of the deal, American Savings Bank, a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries, will be spun off into an independent company.

Jim Robo Chairman and CEO, NEXTERA Energy, Inc. gestures with Connie Lau, President and CEO Hawaiian Electric Industries while speaking at press conference announcing a merger with NEXTERA at suite 800, 1001 Bishop Street. Honolulu, Hawaii.  3 dec 2014. photograph by Cory Lum

Jim Robo, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, stands beside Connie Lau, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries, at a press conference announcing the $4.3 billion merger.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The purchase still has to be approved by Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission and HEI shareholders. The PUC has indicated that it may not rule on the deal until the middle of next year. Meanwhile, more than two dozen entities, including solar trade groups, county and state agencies and other energy companies have intervened in the quasi-judicial proceedings taking place before the PUC.

“Approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission represents a significant step toward the completion of our merger,” Jim Robo, chairman and chief executive officer of NextEra Energy, said in a statement. “Through our partnership, we will apply our combined expertise and resources to deliver significant savings and value to Hawaiian Electric customers. We will continue to work closely with our partners at Hawaiian Electric in pursuing the remaining necessary approvals to complete the merger and begin to deliver the more affordable clean energy future we all want for Hawaii.”

Connie Lau, HEI’s CEO and president, who stands to make $10.6 million in cash and other benefits if the deal goes through, said in a statement that she was pleased with the progress of the proposed merger.

“Hawaiian Electric is gaining a partner that is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun, with a commitment to supporting rooftop solar in Hawaii and a proven track record of lowering electric bills,” she said in a statement. “This approval provides further momentum toward ultimately delivering that substantial value to our customers and communities.”

Read the FERC order below.

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