by Andrew Walden
For over a year, Hawaiian Electric has been claiming that the "green infrastructure fee" now beginning to appear on electric bills statewide is not a rate hike because the new fee is counterbalanced by the removal of the former “public benefits fee.”
HawaiiFreePress.com has been alone in pointing out that the new green infrastructure fee will inevitably lead to higher electric bills as it is adjusted upwards to pay for defaults on subprime solar loans called "GEMS".
Now HECO has admitted that the truth is even worse than we projected. The Green Infrastructure Fee is already a rate hike which will take a bite out of solar customers, small and large businesses, non-profits, and government. The rate hike will be passed on to consumers.
As explained, November, 2014: How GEMS Will Drive Your Electric Bill Up
And here is the latest:
GEMS Rate Hike: Green infrastructure fee to appear on Hawaiian Electric bills this month
PBN: Typical Hawaiian Electric Co. customers across the state will begin to see a monthly $1.29 green infrastructure fee on their bills this month, although the utility noted that a reduction on a surcharge will result in little net change in what customers actually pay.
The Honolulu-based utility, which is also the parent of Maui Electric Co. and Hawaii Electric Light Co., said Tuesday that the fee will help finance the state's $150 million Green Energy Market Securitization program, which aims to expand the installation of solar energy systems and other clean energy devices for Hawaii customers.
For a typical residential customer using 600 kilowatt-hours a month, there should be a net change of "give or take a few cents,"Peter Rosegg, spokesman for HECO, told PBN.
But for heavy users of power, there may be a higher charge, as the lowering of the Public Benefits Fund surcharge will not be equal to the green infrastructure fee, with the difference getting greater as more electricity is used.
For homeowners with solar photovoltaic systems who do not pay the Public Benefits Fund surcharge, they will pay the green surcharge, so for these individuals there will be no offset, Rosegg said.
The new line item, titled "Green Infrastructure Fee," will appear under the listing of "Current Charges: Electric Service" beginning with this month's bill.
As required by law and authorized by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, all residential and commercial customers will pay the green fee to help pay for the GEMS program....
read ... Green infrastructure fee
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All electricity customers will help finance Hawaii's clean energy future
Offset of new charge means most customers will pay about the same each month
News Release from HECO December 2, 2014
HONOLULU, December 2, 2014 – A new line on electric bills starting this month will finance the State of Hawaii Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program. However, a corresponding reduction of the monthly Public Benefits Fund surcharge, collected to pay for the State's conservation and energy efficiency programs, means most customers will likely see little net change on their electric bills. For a typical residential customer using 600 kWh a month, the green infrastructure fee will be $1.29 per month.
The new line item, titled “Green Infrastructure Fee,” will appear under the listing of "Current Charges: Electric Service" beginning with December 2014 monthly bills of all Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light customers.
As required by law and authorized by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, all residential and commercial customers will pay the Green Infrastructure Fee. The new fee will enable the State of Hawaii to borrow $150 million for its GEMS program. The State Department of Business, Economic Development will initially administer GEMS. The program will make low-cost loans so green infrastructure improvements are more affordable and accessible for customers who cannot afford upfront costs or cannot qualify for other financing.
The GEMS program will initially focus on clean energy investments so customers can take advantage of green initiatives such as photovoltaic systems, energy storage, advanced inverters and energy monitoring devices.
To learn more, visit the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Energy Office website (http://energy.hawaii.gov/testbeds-initiatives/gems) or call 808.586.2407.
NOTE ON BILL PAYMENTS: Under the tariff, if the Green Infrastructure Fee or any part of the monthly electric bill is not paid, it may result in discontinuation of service in accordance with Rule No. 7, Discontinuance and Restoration of Service. We encourage any customers who have problems paying their electric bills to call their island utility as soon as possible to make payment arrangements before bills become past due. Credit representatives can assist any customer having temporary difficulties.
Numbers to call, also listed on each company's website, are:
808-548-7311 from Oahu
808-871-9777 from Maui
1-877-871-8461 toll free from Molokai and Lanai
808-969-6999 from Hilo
808-329-3584 from Kona
808-885-4605 from Waimea