By Henry Curtis
A very diversified group of 40 to 50 Democratic and Republican State and County Legislators are calling for some form of public ownership of the HECO Companies.
The group included Chairs of the Kaui, Maui and Hawaii County Councils, 11 other Councilmembers, 8 State Senators and 20 State Representatives.
A number of other legislators expressed interest in supporting public utilities.
Senators Mike Gabbard, Josh Green, Gil Kahele, Gil Riviere, Russell Ruderman, Maile Shimabukuro, Laura Thielen, and Glenn Wakai.
Representatives: Della Au Belatti, Tom Brower, Richard Creagan, Lynn DeCoite, Cindy Evans, Beth Fukumoto Chang, Kaniela Ing, Jarrett Keohokalole, Bert Kobayashi, Sam Kong, Chris Lee, Matt LoPresti, Nicole Lowen, Lauren Matsumoto, Dee Morikawa, Mark Nakashima, Takashi Ohno, Feki Pouha, Cynthia Thielen, and Justin Woodson.
Big Island Councy Council Chair Dru Mamo Kanuha and Members Greggor Ilagan, Maile David, Karen Eoff and Energy Chair Margaret Wille.
City and County of Honolulu Council Chair Ernie Martin and Members Trevor Ozawa, Kyberly Marcos Pine, and Ikaika Anderson.
Kauai Council Chair Mel Rapozo and Council Members Gary Hooser, Mason Chock, and Ross Kagawa.
Maui County Council Member and Energy Chair Don Guzman.
Representatives Beth Fukumoto Chang and Chris Lee
Chris Lee opened the press conference.
"We understand that the public has some significant concerns about the NextEra merger.
We have a decision before us in our state that's going to last for decades to come.
We are here to say for our purposes, for the public, for the constituents of Hawaii, we need to put the best interest of the public first, and that means putting all options on the table, and doing our due diligence to begin evaluating co-ops and public utility options that folks on the Neighbor Islands have already started talking about."
House Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto Chang spoke next.
"I think we can all agree that the skyrocketing cost of electricity in this State has been detrimental to our local families and we need to put all options on the table.
Especially because NextEra has not necessarily presented a plan yet that shows us how they are going to give us any savings for our consumers."
Ernie Martin said the rail project would make the county energy use surpass the military's use. It is critical to get costs under control.
“As more and more people seek ways to become energy self-sufficient, we need to rethink our traditional electrical power distribution. As the future heads towards decentralized systems, now is the time for us to explore public ownership as an option that could best serve the needs of Oahu residents."
Representative Richard Creagan spoke about health and justice impacts associated with high electric prices.
Representative Matt LoPresti talked about the lack of air conditioners in Ewa due to the high cost of electricity and its health and education impacts. A teacher went to the hospital yesterday.
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