NextEra Gobbles Up Hawaii
April 20, 2015
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The Florida-based energy giant NextEra is planning to take over the electrical utilities on Oahu and Maui. It sounds like it’s not good news for consumers. Here’s an excerpt of a terrific piece by Larry Tool in Civil Beat.
About 50 Molokai residents gathered last Thursday night at Kaunakakai School, looking for answers about our energy future. The occasion was a “meet and greet” with officers of NextEra, the Florida utility giant which is poised to buy out the HECO companies.
What we got was a crash course in flimflam and warm, fuzzy nothings. What we got was three hours of “truthiness” and retractable commitments. What we got was the last scene from the “The Illusionist,” where you are still seeing the magician up onstage, but he has already left the building. The evening started badly because NextEra had removed all the chairs from the room. Evidently, the latest manipulation manuals stress keeping people moving, allowing only one-on-one interactions, and no public questions. Six or seven perky NextEra lieutenants were present in company shirts, assigned to chat congenially with each resident.
NextEra CEO Eric Gleason then showed why he gets the big bucks. For 2 ½ hours he swatted away 50 different versions of the question, “What are your plans?” Bobbing and weaving, engaging with each questioner, Mr. Gleason managed to tap dance his way through the entire evening without making a single commitment or revealing any specific plans. It was a bravura performance — except perhaps for those rare moments when he let his sincere contempt for everyone in the room show through.
To the Molokai residents in the room, however, it seemed clear that NextEra is not here to give and spend, but to take. NextEra has read correctly that our commitment to 100 percent renewables makes Hawaii a great spot to fish for “green energy” tax credits; they have read correctly that customers used to paying 50 cents a kilowatt will demand very little of their utility; and they have read correctly that our PUC lacks the staff and resources to effectively monitor a corporation of their size.