May electric bills lower, 1 year after oil price surge

Bill decrease ranges from $6 on Oahu to $30 less on Lanai

Release Date: 5/3/2023

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HONOLULU, May 3, 2023 – Typical residential electric bills on all five islands served by Hawaiian Electric are now lower than a year ago, when a global surge in oil prices drove rates higher.

Typical bills in Hawaii are settling closer to the level they were before the Russian invasion of Ukraine spiked oil prices and elevated electric rates starting in the spring of 2022. Oahu bills in May are $6.54 lower than May 2022 but are still about 9% higher than before the oil price surge, with some of the increase attributable to the discontinuation of burning lower-cost coal for power generation last year. Most of the reduction in electric bills can be attributed to prices stabilizing and declining in global oil markets in recent months.

Island May 2022 May 2023
Oahu (500 kWh) $208.73 $202.19
Hawaii (500 kWh) $241.26 $221.83
Maui (500 kWh) $223.53 $210.60
Lanai (400 kWh) $226.35 $195.65
Molokai (400 kWh) $205.10 $198.42

The Public Utilities Commission regulates the formula for rates, which include fuel costs that fluctuate with world markets. Hawaiian Electric makes no profit on the fuels used to generate electricity. Under a fuel-cost risk-sharing regulatory mechanism, the company’s shareholders may be required to pay some of the cost when oil prices surge, resulting in a slightly lower rate for customers.

By the end of the decade, Hawaiian Electric expects the level of renewable resources on its grids to reach at least 70%, better insulating customers from oil price volatility. An example is the AES Corporation’s Waikoloa Solar + Storage project which came online in April, providing lower-cost renewable energy to customers on Hawaii Island. It is expected to reduce typical residential bills for Hawai’i Island customers by about $5 a month starting in June.