- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

HONOLULU (AP) - Gov. David Ige said Tuesday he doesn’t support the sale of Hawaiian Electric to Florida-based NextEra Energy.

The sale was approved by Hawaiian Electric’s shareholders in June but still needs approval from the state Public Utilities Commission.

Ige said he supports capital investment in Hawaii, but he joined critics saying he’s concerned that NextEra may not be able to fulfill Hawaii’s goal that its utilities use 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

“We are looking for a partner that shares our hopes and dreams in terms of electricity generation,” Ige said at a news conference. “The merger as proposed at this point is unacceptable.”

Ige said various parties have raised a number of concerns, and that many of the questions the state posed to NextEra have gone unanswered during the screening process. There’s also concern about the loss of local control of the state’s utilities, he said.

A spokesman for NextEra Energy said the company and Hawaiian Electric both believe the sale is in the best interest of the state.

“If allowed to support Hawaii’s energy goals with the Hawaiian Electric companies, NextEra Energy and its extensive renewable energy expertise and resources will strengthen and accelerate Hawaiian Electric’s clean energy transformation,” said Robert Gould, NextEra’s chief communications officer, in a statement.

The process of obtaining approval from the Public Utilities Commission is ongoing and will give NextEra more opportunities to answer questions, said Alan Oshima, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric, in a statement.

“As more information is provided throughout this process, we feel strongly that others will also conclude that this partnership with NextEra Energy will result in significant benefits for our customers and for Hawaii’s leadership in clean energy,” he said.

The companies valued the deal at $2.6 billion in December, or $4.3 billion including the assumption of Hawaiian Electric’s debt.

NextEra owns one of the country’s largest electrical utilities, Florida Power & Light Co., and a major wind and solar energy company.

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