- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said he wants the county to look into making Maui Electric Co. a public utility.

His comments come as a Florida-based company is trying to acquire Maui Electric’s parent company, Hawaiian Electric Industries. NextEra Energy Inc. has no Hawaii roots, and the company’s profits wouldn’t stay on Maui, Arakawa said.

Arakawa told Wailuku newspaper The Maui News (http://ow.ly/Lmefc ) in an interview Tuesday that the county will probably hire a consultant to explore possibilities. The options include buying the utility and forming a co-op like on Kauai for forming a utility that can compete with NextEra.

The nonprofit Kauai Island Utility Cooperative was established in 2002 and is owned and controlled by its members.

Maui County has experience with being in the public utility business with its water and sewer systems, Arakawa said.

NextEra Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Robert Gould declined to comment on Arakawa’s statements.

NextEra and Hawaiian Electric announced a merger agreement in December. The $4.3 billion deal needs approval from regulators.

The two companies are holding statewide meetings where residents can ask questions about the merger. Gould said the company is “listening and learning” from the community.

Arakawa said he has heard a mix of good and bad about NextEra. He’s not sure can support the acquisition “because there is no information out there for us to analyze,” he said.

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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