Chair McKelvey, Vice-Chair Woodson, and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports HB619 HD1 which strongly encourages the Public Utilities Commission and Division of Consumer Advocacy to apply certain standards and criteria and hold a public hearing to determine whether to approve a merger, acquisition, or consolidation of an electric utility.
The League believes this is an important question for the entire state, and we think citizens have a right to know more about the proposed transaction. It is incumbent on the legislature to protect the citizen's right to know and facilitate citizen participation in government decision making. Currently there is no state law that requires the Public Utilities Commission to hold a public hearing regarding the proposed NextEra takeover of HECO. Yet a public hearing is an important ingredient in any decision-making and would not inhibit the PUC’s role in considering the merger.
Furthermore, the legislature, as well as the PUC, has an important responsibility to determine whether or not such a merger is in the public interest, and public participation is essential to assist in making that determination.
We urge you to pass this bill. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.