There are other companies interested in Hawaiian Electric Industries, Gov. David Ige said Monday, the same day that the state’s largest utility and Florida-based NextEra Energy announced they would abandon plans to merge.

Ige said he was “not at liberty” to name the companies but said “there is interest by more than one company.”

On Friday, the state Public Utilities Commission rejected the $4.3 billion proposal to sell HEI to NextEra. The PUC concluded the merger was not in the public interest and not a good “fit” for Hawaii.

Ige echoed those points Monday at a press conference at the Capitol, and he praised the PUC for expanding the comment process on the NextEra-HEI docket to hear from a variety of interests.

Governor David Ige presser. 18 july 2016
Gov. David Ige talked about Hawaiian Electric with reporters Monday at the Capitol. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The governor said he wants a company that is committed to a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio by 2045, a goal he said he did not believe NextEra shared.

I think NextEra is a good company,” he said. “I just didn’t think it was a good company for Hawaii.”

Ige added that the future process for selling HEI should go beyond what is important to the company’s shareholders and consider the broader community.

He said that he believed there was “lots of capital available” for investment in Hawaii’s energy infrastructure and that “the model going forward” should be about a smart grid, distributed energy generation and “having different people owning different parts of that rather than the utility owning all parts.”

That ownership, said Ige, should include some measure of local control.

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