Driven up by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, oil prices will push electric bills higher in coming months, according to projections released today by Hawaiian Electric.
“As the US and other nations stand with the people of Ukraine and impose powerful economic sanctions on Russia, including the refusal to buy Russian oil, Hawai‘i will see higher prices at the gas pump and in electric bills,” company executives said in a press release.
Hawaiian Electric is forecasting that residential bills for customers in Maui and Hawaiʻi counties will rise about 20% over the next several months, while O‘ahu customers will see an estimated 10% increase.
“The increases we’re anticipating are more abrupt than we’ve seen before and, on top of the inflation we’ve all experienced in recent months, I know they will impact the budgets of many households,” said Joe Viola, senior vice president of customer, legal and regulatory affairs.“We hope that by letting customers know what’s coming this helps households and businesses plan budgets and reduce energy use.”
Hawaiian Electric offered the following tips to help customers manage their energy bills:
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Links to additional resources are available at hawaiianelectric.com.ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD
If you’re having trouble paying your bill, go to hawaiianelectric.com/paymentarrangement to review payment plan options. For information on available financial assistance, go to hawaiianelectric.com/COVID19.“Don’t wait until your balance gets bigger,” company representatives advise.
“We hope this is the peak and that by summer we could see some relief,” Viola said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty and if the international situation remains in turmoil, the price could surge higher.”
The formula for rates is regulated by the Public Utilities Commission and include fuel costs that fluctuate with world markets.Hawaiian Electric reports that it makes no profit on the fuel used to generate electricity.Under a fuel-cost risk-sharing regulatory mechanism, the company’s shareholders are required to pay some of the cost when oil prices rise too high, resulting in a slightly lower rate for customers.ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD
Recognizing the instability of the world energy market, Hawaiian Electric has reduced the use of imported oil by 25% since 2008, in partnership with many others in Hawai‘i, and is working to bring more than 20 new, fixed-price renewable projects online in the next several years, according to the company.
By the end of the decade, Hawaiian Electric expects the level of renewable resources on its grids to reach at least 70%, better insulating customers from the kind of oil price spikes caused by international events like the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Just as we did through the pandemic, we will work with you if you’re having trouble paying your bill. Our goal is to keep everyone connected and by working together we know we can get through this latest challenge,” Viola said.