News Column

HEI boosts profits 2%, fine-tunes energy plans

August 12, 2014

By Dave Segal, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Aug. 12--Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. announced a 2 percent increase in second-quarter earnings Monday at the same time that its utility subsidiary was ramping up efforts to restore full power to storm-ravaged Hawaii island.

The holding company for the state's largest utility and American Savings Bank said net income in the April-June period rose to $41.4 million, or 41 cents a share, from $40.6 million, or 41 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Revenue edged up 0.5 percent to $798.7 million from $794.5 million.

On Sunday, Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oahu and Maui Electric Co. began sending crews and equipment to Hawaii island to help Hawaii Electric Light Co. restore power to the roughly 10 percent, or 8,100, of its customers without electricity.

"Our crews on Hawaii island have made tremendous progress in restoring power to many of those affected, but as is usual in severe storm situations, they are hampered by difficult access conditions," HEI President and Chief Executive Officer Connie Lau said on an earnings conference call. "Many are in heavily impacted areas, and we have alerted them to expect to remain without power well into next week."

HEI said Monday that its utility subsidiary posted earnings of $34.2 million, up 19.3 percent from $28.7 million in the second quarter of 2013. Revenue rose 1.4 percent to $738.4 million from $728.5 million.

"HEI's financial results were in line with internal expectations," Lau said in a statement. "Our utilities are aggressively managing costs and redirecting savings to accelerate investments for the benefit of our customers. We are making investments to improve reliability, increase the amount of renewables and pave the way for expected lower costs to customers."

American Savings Bank, which reported its earnings July 30 ahead of the utility and holding company results, previously said its second-quarter earnings fell 26.7 percent to $11.7 million from $15.9 million amid lower merchant fees and reduced mortgage income. Bank revenue fell 8.2 percent to $60.6 million from $66 million.

Lau said the Hawaiian Electric Cos. have been "fully engaged" in the planning process to comply with April orders from the state Public Utilities Commission aimed at pushing the utility to accelerate efforts to reduce electricity costs and accommodate greater amounts of renewable energy, including solar energy generated by customers.

The PUC orders require the companies to file a series of "action plans" with the commission by Aug. 26 outlining their prog­ress toward meeting various benchmarks. The PUC said the utility must "aggressively pursue energy cost reductions, proactively respond to emerging renewable energy integration challenges, improve the interconnection process for customer-sited photovoltaic systems, and embrace customer demand response programs."

Lau said the utility has filed some plans and documents to meet earlier deadlines, with the remaining plans to be submitted by Aug. 26.

"Among the earlier filings ... we filed our integrated demand response portfolio plan," Lau said. "Demand response can be an important resource for the island grids" to accept more renewable energy.

She said HECO hopes to implement the new and expanded demand response plan beginning in 2015 with the help of third-party companies.

Lau said HECO still is required to submit reports including power supply improvement plans for each company, which outline how the utilities will reduce oil-fired generation and increase renewable energy generation to reduce customer bills; as well as a distributed generation interconnection plan, which will allow more customers to connect rooftop solar systems to the grid.

"Together these plans will provide a road map for future additions to our system as well as guide us and others in providing for a cleaner energy future for our state," Lau said.

HEI's stock rose 37 cents to $24 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. The earnings were announced before the market opened.


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Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)

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