He replaces Dean Nishina who led the office since 2017.

The Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has chosen a new person to lead statewide consumer protection efforts.

Michael Angelo became the state’s new Consumer Advocate on July 17, replacing Dean Nishina who had held the position since 2017.

In his new role, Angelo represents consumer interests before the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, Federal Communications Commission and other local and federal agencies. He oversees a staff of lawyers, accountants, economists, engineers, an education specialist, analysts and support staff.

Michael Angelo
Michael Angelo became Hawaii’s new Consumer Advocate on July 17.

Angelo has previously worked as a technology consultant with Hawaiian Electric, according to a DCCA news release Wednesday. Other positions include senior applications engineer at Kevala, a data analytics company, and research analyst with the state Division of Consumer Advocacy.

He’s also served as research faculty with the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii, according to the release.

Nadine Ando, director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, said in the release that Angelo’s experience in the energy industry and commitment to clean energy “will be an asset in protecting the interests of our consumers.”

Angelo said he looks forward to strongly advocating for ratepayers’ interests and Hawaii’s clean energy and environmental policy goals.

The Consumer Advocate’s job is to review requests for rate and tariff changes, capital improvement projects, integrated resource plans, certificates for authority to operate, and other applications filed by public utility and transportation companies, among other things.

Public utilities do not typically face competition as most businesses do, according to the Consumer Advocate’s office. Therefore, the government steps in and serves as a proxy for competition by regulating how utilities set the rates they charge consumers. 

Angelo’s undergraduate degree is in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. He also has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Hawaii.

Nishina has returned to his civil service position as public utilities and transportation administrator within the Division of Consumer Advocacy, spokesperson William Nhieu said by email. Nishina has worked for the division in various capacities since 1993, according to his online resume.

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