NextEra sweetens deal for HECO customers in buyout
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) –
NextEra Energy Inc. plans to expand Hawaiian Electric Co.’s smart meter pilot project to nearly all of its 450,000 customers in Hawaii.
That’s a key highlight of the Florida company’s latest filing, in which NextEra promises 50 new conditions or benefits for consumers as part of its $4.3 billion buyout of HECO. NextEra said the deal will save consumers nearly half a billion dollars over the next five years.
“Hawaii has some of the highest bills in the nation, arguably the highest electric bills in the nation. We believe we can partner with Hawaiian Electric in helping lower those costs for customers,” said Robert Gould, vice president and chief communications officer for NextEra.
Smart meter advocates say the high-tech devices improve reliability and provide customers with more control over their costs. These meters, which use FM signals to send data back and forth between the customer and the utility, provide residents with their up-to-the minute information about energy consumption so that consumers can adjust their energy usage accordingly.
But worries about costs and health risks from electromagnetic radiation have prompted consumer opposition on Kauai and parts pf the Mainland such as Marin County in California.
Gould said studies have shown that smart meters are much safer than cell phones or microwave ovens. They also provide for more reliable service since they can help detect outages immediately, which saves money.