Maui County Electricity Bills Expected to Rise 20% | News, Sports, Jobs




Jimmy James Thennes of Paia loads his Kia Soul in front of the Hawaiian Electric building in Kahului. Thennes said he bought an electric vehicle hoping to save money, but now fears paying more, with Hawaiian Electric predicting residential bills in Maui County will rise by about 20 % due to rising gasoline prices. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photos

Electricity bills for Maui County customers are set to rise about 20% due to rising gas prices as the United States refuses to buy Russian oil and imposes sanctions on the country for its recent invasion from Ukraine.

Hawaiian Electric expects residential bills in Maui County and the island of Hawaii to increase by about 20%, while customer bills on Oahu will increase by about 10% over the next few months.

“The increases we are anticipating are more brutal than those we have experienced before and, in addition to the inflation that we have all experienced in recent months, I know that they will have an impact on the budget of many households,” said he added. Joe Viola, senior vice president of customer, legal and regulatory affairs, said in a press release Thursday. “We hope that by informing customers of what is coming, it will help households and businesses plan their budgets and reduce their energy consumption.”

Gas prices have soared across the country as Russia’s war with Ukraine continues and other nations scramble to cut ties with Moscow. Last week, Par Pacific Holdings, Hawaii’s only oil refinery, announced it would suspend all purchases of Russian crude oil, which has accounted for up to a third of Hawaii’s supply in recent years. primarily for jet fuel, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Hawaii is currently averaging $4.81 a gallon, above the national average of nearly $4.32 a gallon as of Thursday, according to AAA’s gas price tracker. Kahului currently costs an average of $4.98 per gallon for regular gasoline, 40 cents more than the average from a month ago and nearly $1.36 more than rates from a year ago. .

Hawaiian Electric said Thursday it expects Maui County customer bills to rise about 20% as gas prices rise amid the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Given the instability of the global energy market, Hawaiian Electric said it has reduced the use of imported oil by 25% since 2008 and is working to bring more than 20 new renewable energy projects online at affordable prices. fixed over the next few years.

By the end of the decade, Hawaiian Electric expects the level of renewable resources on its grids to reach at least 70%, which it says would better protect customers from the kind of oil price spike caused. by international events such as the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Hawaii has long had the highest electricity prices in the nation, with Molokai and Lanai often paying the highest rates in the state. According to Hawaiian Electric, residential customers in Lanai averaged 36.41 cents per kilowatt hour in 2020, followed by Molokai at 35.43 cents and Maui at 33.32 cents. Residential rates on the island of Hawaii averaged 35.17 cents per kilowatt hour, while Oahu residents averaged 28.74 cents.

“We recognize that for our Electric on Molokai customers, the impacts can be quite pronounced, so we will be meeting with community leaders and resource organizations on Molokai to find ways to offer support to residents and businesses to increase energy conservation and saving actions immediately”, Mahina Martin, director of government and community affairs at Hawaiian Electric in Maui, said at the county’s press conference Thursday afternoon.

Hawaiian Electric’s rate formula is regulated by the state’s Utilities Commission and includes fuel costs that fluctuate with global markets, the company said, adding that it makes no profit on the fuel used to generate electricity. As part of a regulatory fuel cost risk-sharing mechanism, the company’s shareholders are required to pay a portion of the cost when oil prices rise too much, resulting in a slightly lower rate for customers.

“We hope this is the peak and that by the summer we can see some relief,” Violet said. “There is a lot of uncertainty and if the international situation remains turbulent, the price could skyrocket.”

Jimmy James Thennes, who was charging his electric vehicle outside the Hawaiian Electric building in Kahului on Thursday afternoon, said he bought his Kia Soul nearly two years ago in hopes of being more energy efficient.

“I have an electric car to save money, and now it will go up to where I won’t save money anymore”, Thennes said in response to the news of rising electricity bills. “It’s a continuum. … It sucks in the unprivileged.

For Thennes, it’s just a growing thing of the high price of goods which has increased with inflation.

“It’s ridiculous,” Thennes said. “Because we are already paying a high price for everything that happens on the boat, and we are surviving. We just do it. You know what I mean? There’s not enough.

Hawaiian Electric said there are options to help customers manage their energy bills and encouraged residents to take steps to save energy, including:

• Reduce the use of anything that generates heat, such as a water heater, oven, clothes dryer or stove. Customers could consider a heat pump water heater, which is now available at a $500 rebate from Hawaii Energy and could reduce electric bills by up to 40%.

• Turn off the air conditioning, set it to 78 degrees or turn it off for an hour.

• Use smart plugs or unplug electronic devices when not in use, including computers, printers, set-top boxes, game consoles and chargers.

• Consider solar power on the roof. In addition to tax incentives, Hawaiian Electric offers cash incentives through its Battery Bonus program to customers who install storage batteries. Shared solar will soon be available for customers who cannot install panels on their own roof.

• Use electric vehicles when gas prices are high. This can help reduce a household’s overall energy expenditure, especially if drivers take advantage of special rates that incentivize charging at certain times of the day with lower rates, Hawaiian Electric said.

• Register for “power partnerships” with independent companies called “network service aggregators” who are under contract with the public service. These companies are recruiting customers with solar, batteries, electric vehicles and other charging flexibility devices to combine or “aggregate” their services to support the network. Customers are rewarded, usually with credits that lower their monthly bills.

For more information on the impact of oil prices on bills, as well as links to resources to help pay bills and reduce electricity consumption, visit hawaiianelectric.com.

Customers having difficulty paying their bills can visit hawaiianelectric.com/paymentarrangement to review payment plan options.

For more information on available financial assistance, visit hawaiianelectric.com/COVID19.

*Colleen Uechi can be reached at [email protected] Writer Melissa Tanji contributed to this report.




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