Hawaii Electric Light Co. is asking the Public Utilities Commission’s permission to raise electricity rates 4.2 percent.
The request, if approved, would add $8.32 to a 500-kilowatt hour residential bill, officials said. The increase would give HELCO another $19.8 million in annual revenue and would be used to acquire more renewable energy projects, including advanced wind forecasting systems and computer models and tools to analyze how to add more distributed solar power from customer’s homes to the grid.
Any increase, if approved, would not go into effect until 2013, officials said.
“Nearly 60 percent of our customers’ electric bills go to pay the cost of fuel and purchased power,” HELCO President Jay Ignacio said. “So it makes sense for HELCO to aggressively pursue renewable energy technologies that are not dependent upon oil and that will reduce the cost of electric service in the long run. As existing renewable contracts expire, or perhaps sooner if developers will agree, we will renegotiate these contracts to remove the link to oil as well, providing more stable and lower prices than customers face today.”
The rate request also includes funding for grid maintenance and system upgrades. Ignacio said the company needs to increase tree trimming, pole and line maintenance and rebuild parts of the transmission system.
The PUC is expected to hold a public hearing on the proposed 2013 increase later this year and an evidentiary hearing next year. The PUC may grant an interim increase within 11 months of the rate case filing.