Hurricane Preparedness Handbook:
Article about Poverty
November 4th, 2019
Hawaiian Electric Special Needs Pilot Program Ending-March 2020
We are writing to share some news regarding the close of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light’s Special Medical Needs Pilot Program. After nearly three years of the pilot program we have been unable to continue the program due to the lack of support in our effort to make the program permanent.
Background: On January 18, 2017, in an effort to address some of our most vulnerable customer’s needs, the Hawaiian Electric Companies filed a Special Medical Needs Tariff, Transmittal No. 17-01 requesting that the Public Utilities Commission establish a special medical needs rate for a two-year pilot program from April 1, 2017, through March 31, 2019. The PUC approved the one year extension which continued the program for an additional year in 2019 and it is now scheduled to end on March 31, 2020. During the 2019 legislative session Hawaiian Electric Companies requested the support of the legislature to recognize that the state supported an energy subsidy policy for low income families or customers with special medical needs, which is what the Public Utilities Commission requested. However, efforts at the legislature were not successful.
For the past two and a half years, through the Special Medical Need Pilot Program our employees across all three counties have learned from our special medical needs customers and that they may come from all different financial backgrounds; however, their special medical needs and the medical costs can be unrelenting and can easily cause an individual and/or family to lose their financial stability. This is especially true if the individual or family does not qualify for financial assistance, these customers have nowhere to turn for help and faced with medical challenges, sometimes even life-threatening medical challenges.
The Companies’ legislative and regulatory efforts to permanently fund the program were unsuccessful. As such, we are providing current users of the program advance notice that the pilot program is scheduled to close on March 31, 2020, and the discount will be discontinued as of that date. Current program participants will be converted to a Life Support account, which provides special consideration in the handling of termination of service in the event you find yourself behind on your electric bill payments. In parallel, the Hawaiian Electric Companies have proposed a Low-Income Med-Plus program to assist the members of our community in greatest financial need. This program will not require funding from regulated electric rates. However, the program is still subject to approval by Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission. If approved and a customer is currently a LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) customer, we will automatically enroll them in the Low-Income Med-Plus program and the discount will continue at $0.04 per kWh (Non-Fuel Energy Charge) on the first 500 kilowatt-hours in any month. This new program will be implemented once it is approved by the PUC.
Please contact Joanna Markle at Joanna.firstname.lastname@example.org or 808-543-2550 if you have any additional questions and please share with your company. Thank you.