Hawaii Gas seeking rate hike

Maui bills would rise $14.50 per month, filing with PUC says

The Maui News

Hawaii Gas is seeking a change in rates from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission that would increase typical bills $14.50 per month on Maui and $4.55 on Molokai while Lanai customers would see an average decrease of $4.15 per month, the company announced Wednesday.

The company filed its application Tuesday with the PUC, and it’s the first time Hawaii Gas has sought a rate change in nine years, it said.

“The rate increase would provide for recovery of investments in fuel diversification projects as well as increased system reliability,” a company announcement said.

The rate changes would only affect utility customers, and they’re not expected to go into effect until mid-2018.

Hawaii Gas has requested an average statewide increase of about 15 percent in rates, which is the equivalent of about 1.6 percent per year since the last time higher rates were requested. If approved, Maui, Molokai and Oahu residential gas utility customers would see rate increases. On average, customers on the Big Island and Kauai would not see any impact while Lanai customers would get a decrease.

“We are committed to ensuring that our customers can count on us every day for the gas they need for cooking, drying, heating and lighting,” said Alicia Moy, president and chief executive officer of Hawaii Gas. “Regular investments in operational infrastructure are essential to ensuring the safety and reliability of the gas products we manufacture and deliver.”

The company is working to reduce its dependence on imported oil by pursuing local renewable natural gas projects, she said.

“We have worked hard over the past decade to manage costs, and we have been able to keep our request for a rate increase to a modest level,” she said.

Non-utility tank and bottled gas customers would not be affected. Utility customers receive gas service through an underground pipeline. The rate increase is not related to changes in fuel costs that are passed through to customers without markup, the company said.