Hearings set for MECO’s proposed 9.3% rate hike

The Maui News

The state Public Utilities Commission will hold public hearings at the end of this month on Maui Electric Co.’s proposed 9.3 percent increase to its base power rates.

A Molokai meeting will be held beginning at 2 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Conference Room, Kulana Oiwi, in Kalamaula. The Maui meeting will be at 5 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Velma Mc-Wayne Santos Community Center in Wailuku. A meeting on Lanai will be held at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Lanai Community Center in Lanai City.

The commission will be examining whether the proposed revenue increases, changes in rate schedules and rules and other matters proposed in MECO’s application “are just and reasonable,” according to a public hearing notice.

While announcing the proposed increase in October, MECO said a typical Maui residential bill for 500 kilowatt-hours would increase by $13.46 a month to $161.10. On Lanai, a typical home bill for 400 kilowatt-hours would rise by $13.83 a month to $160.55, and, on Molokai, bills would increase $11.25 a month to $147.60 for 400 kilowatt-hours.

If approved by the commission, the new higher rates would likely not take effect until the last half of this year at the earliest, MECO has said.

The utility said the increase would be MECO’s first in nearly six years. It would help pay for operating costs, including system upgrades to increase reliability, integrate more renewable energy and improve customer service. The rate increase would generate $30 million more in revenue.