Hawaii regulators shoot down NextEra bid for Hawaiian Electric

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NextEra Energy has ended its nearly two-year quest to buy Hawaii’s largest utility after state regulators nixed the deal late last week.

Florida-based NextEra shut down its run at Hawaiian Electric Industries in what the utilities hoped was a $2.6 billion deal. NextEra will pay Hawaiian Electric a $90 million breakup fee and another $5 million in related expenses, according to reports.

The termination came after the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission voted to not approve the merger on Friday. The regulatory body announced that it voted 2-0 to reject the merger.

The commission said NextEra and HEI failed to show the merger would be in the public's interest. Members were concerned about benefits to ratepayers and the companies' commitment to clean energy. They also were worried about what would happen if the utility lost local control.

The companies had announced NextEra's plans to acquire HEI in December 2014. The deal was valued at $2.6 billion, or $4.3 billion including the assumption of Hawaiian Electric's debt.

Commissioner Thomas Gorak who was recently appointed to the commission abstained from the vote, saying he supports the decision.

NextEra announced its bid in 2014. A deadline for the deal passed in June of this year, but the companies said they were not giving up on it.

Critics had asked whether the deal would result in energy savings for consumers, who pay some of the highest rates in the nation. Critics of the deal are also concerned whether NextEra can help HEI meet its renewable energy goals.

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