9.2% rate increase sought for Big Isle electricity
A tiered scale would reward customers who conserve power
HILO » The Hawaii Electric Light Co. filed with the state Public Utilities Commission for an overall 9.2 percent rate increase, the Big Island company announced yesterday.
Due to a new tiered set of rates designed to reward people who conserve energy, about half of residential customers -- those who use small amounts of power -- would see increases of 3.8 percent to 7.6 percent, the company said.
Big residential power users would pay up to 14.6 percent more.
Rates for nonresidential users would also increase overall.
The 9.2 percent increase is slightly less than the roughly 10 percent the company said in December that it would request.
Considered over the period since the company last received an increase in 2001, 9.2 percent is less than the accumulated rate of inflation, company officials said.
In 2000 the company sought a 9 percent increase. It was eventually granted a 4.86 percent increase by the PUC, which typically grants less than the full amount sought.
Under the system of 10 tiers proposed for residential users, a small household using 100 kilowatts a month would see an increase of 3.8 percent producing a bill of $39.59.
An average household using 500 kilowatts would get an increase of 7.6 percent and a bill of $162.17. A power-hungry household using 5,000 kilowatts would get a 14.6 percent increase and a monthly bill of $1,623.69.
Recognizing that some low-income households have several families under the same roof, giving the appearance of being a single, affluent household, the new rate proposal allows those households to apply to cap their increase at 5 percent.
Rates fostering conservation had been sought by Mayor Harry Kim, who praised the tier system and the company's stated intent to get future energy needs from alternative energy.
Since HELCO's intent to seek a rate increase was announced in December, there has been little consumer reaction. HELCO President Warren Lee said he saw only one letter in the Hilo newspaper.