A new group at the University of Hawaii plans to hold three public meetings in September to gather community feedback on the proposed merger of Hawaiian Electric Industries with NextEra Energy.

State regulators are currently considering the $4.3 billion buyout agreement and plan to make a decision by June.

Associate Professor Shalanda Baker, director of the new Energy Justice Program at the William S. Richardson School of Law, said in a UH release Thursday that she sees the community meetings as an opportunity to begin a statewide conversation about energy justice.

University of Hawaii at Manoa

The newly formed Energy Justice Working Group at the University of Hawaii Law School plans to hold public meetings about the NextEra-Hawaiian Electric merger.

“Energy justice is universal access to affordable, renewable energy,” she said. “Energy justice is also the implementation of clean energy solutions rooted in democratic, stakeholder-driven processes that equitably allocate the costs and benefits of energy development.”

The Energy Justice Working Group, which includes Baker and five law students, plans to provide a general overview of the proposed merger and then form small listening groups. The discussion will also include information about municipal power, energy cooperatives and off-grid energy generation, the release says.

The group plans to use the public input process as the basis for a comprehensive policy report with recommendations for the state Public Utilities Commission to consider.

Meanwhile, the PUC is holding its own “listening sessions” around the state. The commission held one on Maui last Friday and went to Lanai on Saturday. The next one is Sept. 19 on Molokai.

The three UH meetings are to be held on the north shore of Oahu. The first starts at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 19, at the Patagonia store in Haleiwa. The next is at 11 a.m., Sept. 26, at Kahuku High School, and the last one is at 2 p.m., Sept. 27, at Sunset Beach Elementary School.

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