Hawaiian Electric announced Tuesday that the company has withdrawn its applications with the state Public Utilities Commission for approval of a liquefied natural gas contract with Fortis Hawaii Energy, plans to upgrade its Kahe power plant to use the gas and a waiver from the competitive bidding process.
One of the conditions of the LNG contract was approval of the proposed $4.3 billion buyout of Hawaiian Electric Industries by Florida-based NextEra Energy. The PUC rejected the deal, and NextEra announced Monday that it would no longer pursue the merger.
“We’re committed to transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy in the most cost-effective way possible while ensuring reliable service,” said Ron Cox, Hawaiian Electric vice president of power supply, in a release. “We’ll continue to evaluate all options to modernize generation using a cleaner fuel to bring price stability and support adding renewable energy for our customers.”
Hawaiian Electric officials announced in May that they had negotiated a huge deal to import LNG from Canada that could mean slightly lower utility bills for customers on Oahu, Maui and Big Island.
Gov. David Ige’s administration opposes using LNG for electricity generation. He came out against it last August, saying it’s an imported fossil fuel that doesn’t need to be a part of Hawaii’s state mandate of providing 100 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2045.
He said the money spent transitioning Hawaii to use LNG, even as a “bridge fuel,” as supporters call it, is money that could be better spent on going renewable.
Cox said at the time that the company recognized the governor’s concerns, but that Hawaiian Electric officials continue to believe LNG offers “significant economic and environmental benefits” for the people of Hawaii.
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