Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Sunday, July 15, 2001

HECO worker benefit
isn’t a cost for others

Question: I've heard rumors that Hawaiian Electric employees do not have to pay for their electricity, or that they pay substantially less than the rest of us. Is this true? I don't object to company benefits, in fact, I encourage them, but I would object to paying the electric bill of the air conditioned 5,000-square-foot house down the street owned by a Hawaiian Electric employee.

Answer: The rumors have a bit of a truth to them, but you are not subsidizing the air-conditioned comfort of a HECO employee.

About 1,300 full-time employees, plus another 600 or so retirees and directors on Oahu, are offered a 1/3 discount on their rates up to 825 kilowatt hours a month, said HECO spokesman Fred Kobashikawa. Anything above 825 kwh is assessed at the regular residential rate.

It's part of "a total employee compensation plan, similar to discounts offered by other businesses such as banks, retail stores or airlines," Kobashikawa said.

The value of the discount comes out to about $40 per month per employee (1/3 of 14.4 cents per kwh multiplied by 825 kwh).

Asked if other customers were subsidizing the discounts, he said that would not be an accurate conclusion.

"HECO compensates (pays) its employees with revenues it receives from customers," he said. "That compensation includes the employee discount on electric bills. If employees did not receive the discount, their wages would have to be increased to offset the discontinuance of the discount. The discount does not result in an operating expense."

The tariffs covering HECO's rates and rules have to be approved by the Public Utilities Commission. The tariffs are public documents and available for scrutiny from the PUC.

Regarding electric service for employees, the tariffs say the discount is available to all regular full-time employees, retirees, members of the company board of directors, as well as retirees of Hawaii Electric Light Company and Maui Electric Company who retired on or after Jan. 1, 1996, and who are served by HECO.

The discount is applicable only to primary single-family residences and does not apply when a home and business are combined.

Q: There are several no smoking signs at the lobby of the airport post office. I often see postal employees smoking in the lobby area. Why do nonsmokers have to be subjected to the foul-smelling nicotine addiction of smokers?

A: Employees are allowed to smoke in the area between the open courtyard and the lobby, U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Felice Broglio said. No infractions have been reported or witnessed by postal officials, but employees will be reminded to stay out of the no-smoking area, she said. If you see a violation, contact the station manager.


To the person who objected to the handicapped biker (Kokua Line, July 10). That man is an inspiration to everybody. He has every right to use the road as anyone else. I've seen him riding for years through Honolulu and Hawaii Kai. I bet there wasn't a bike lane at the areas you were complaining about. -- Jim

Three free trees, anyone?

Before having the tree trimmer dig out three 10-foot Manila Palm trees, I would like to offer it to a landscaper or anyone who could use them. -- Margaret (Call 951-5500)

Got a question or complaint?
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Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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