New Commissioner Brings Deep Resume, Distinct Ideas to Energy Debate

Civil Beat

Michael Champley, the governor's newest appointee to Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission, has only been on the job a few weeks, but he’s already deeply involved in one of the most controversial issues affecting Hawaii’s energy future – biofuels.

Last month, the three-member PUC rejected a much-anticipated $350 million Big Island biofuels project in a decision that was seen as a major smackdown of the state's major electric utility, Hawaiian Electric Co. HECO made no secret of its disappointment at the setback.

Champley, who has an extensive background in the electric utility business, has expressed skepticism in the past about biofuels and whether they are in the customer’s best interest or only help the utility’s bottom-line.

Biofuels "are clearly in the shareholders' interest,” said Champley, during an interview with Civil Beat a couple of months ago, before he joined the commission. “What you don’t know is if it’s in the customers’ interest."

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