State study explores utility alternatives

The Hawaii State Energy Office on Tuesday unveiled a study analyzing alternative models for utility ownership and regulation in Hawaii.

The $1.2 million study was produced by London Economics International LLC of Boston in response to a law signed in 2016 providing funding “for a study to evaluate alternative utility and regulatory models including, but not limited to, cooperative, municipal and independent distribution system operators; and evaluate the ability of each model to achieve state energy goals, maximize consumer cost savings, enable a competitive distribution system in which independent agents can trade and combine evolving services to meet customer needs; and eliminate or reduce conflicts of interest in energy resource planning, delivery and regulation.”

Alternative ownership models recommended for further study included cooperatives, individual ownership and investor-owned utilities.

Alternative regulation models to the Public Utilities Commission included performance-based regulation, an electricity reliability administrator and distribution-focused regulation.

The study also was “to include a long-term cost-benefit analysis of each model and the steps required to carry out each scenario for each county.”

A statement from the energy office called the study “the most extensive analysis of its kind ever conducted in Hawaii.” It examined existing ownership and regulatory models in each county and evaluated them in comparison to alternative models.

Read the full article