Gov. David Ige has appointed Leodoloff “Leo” R. Asuncion Jr. to lead Hawaii’s three-person Public Utilities Commission. Asuncion has served on the PUC since April 2019.

Asuncion was the lone regulator who voted to give the green light to a controversial Big Island power plant in a decision issued in May. The majority of regulators opposed the power plant, saying it would generate greenhouse gas emissions and increase costs to consumers.

 

Asuncion disagreed, writing in his dissenting opinion that the wood-burning power plant called Hu Honua would result in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over its 30-year life and that the higher costs for consumers were reasonable.

Leo Asuncion Jr. Tracy Wright Corvo/Governor's Office

Although Ige has said he plans to veto a bill that would help Hu Honua, he also has appointed a lawyer who previously did work for Hu Honua, Naomi Kuwaye, to replace departing Chairman Jay Griffin.

Ige said Asuncion will continue to help Hawaii implement its energy policy.

“Hawaii has been leading by example as the state accelerates its transformation to a clean energy economy,” Ige said in a statement. “Under Leo’s leadership, the Public Utilities Commission will continue this work, which will directly benefit the environment and create new businesses and jobs that are in balance with our natural resources while protecting the interests of Hawaii’s working families.”

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