Lawmakers urge utilities to focus on consumers
HONOLULU (AP) — Tensions rose during a Hawaii Senate hearing Tuesday as lawmakers and consumer advocates complained about the state's high power costs to officials from the company that owns the state's electric utilities.
Hawaii had the highest utility rates in the nation in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Lawmakers and consumer advocates say utilities run by Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc., need to be more committed to consumers and renewable energy.
Hawaiian Electric Industries supplies 95 percent of electricity in the state through its three utilities on Maui, the Big Island and Oahu. Kauai has a separate, nonprofit utilities cooperative.
Sen. Malama Solomon, a Democrat from the Big Island, said she is angry at Hawaiian Electric over the circumstances people face in paying bills.
"(My constituents) have no confidence that you folks are in good effort moving ahead and expeditiously trying to resolve these problems," Solomon told utilities officials during the hearing.
She said some families in her district are burning wood to cook dinner and have $500 utility bills.
Utilities officials said they are committed to decreasing prices for consumers and moving to renewable energy.