GEMS Costs of $13 Million a Year Borne by Hawaiian Electric Ratepayers

posted in: January 2017 | 0

How much does the Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program cost customers of Hawaiian Electric utilities?

According to the latest figures submitted to the state Public Utilities Commission, each business day from January 1 through June 30, Hawaiian Electric will collect $54,559.08 to pay for costs associated with the $150 million bond float issued in late 2014 to help “underserved” electric customers enjoy the same savings as more affluent homeowners able to afford rooftop photovoltaic systems and other costly energy-saving technologies. By the end of that six-month period, the state is estimated to receive $5,728,702.23 from the utilities.

Costs include not only interest and principal on the bonds ($1,851,800.67 in interest; $4,752,932.00 in principal), but also around $80,000 in “ongoing financing costs.” Those include “rating agency fees” (around $50,750 a year) and “legal, consulting, and accounting fees” (about $47,200 a year).

Not included in these figures is the approximately $1 million a year it takes to administer the GEMS program through the Hawai`i Green Infrastructure Authority (HGIA), an agency of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. This is paid out of the GEMS bond fund.

Add it all up, and the total annual cost of GEMS comes to just under $13 million a year.

As of October 31, the date of HGIA’s most recent quarterly report to the Public Utilities Commission, the face value of the 17 loans issued through GEMS to single-family households came to $577,947, or less than four-tenths of a percent of the $150 million bond float.

Since that report, several additional GEMS loans have been released. In the filing made with the commission on December 16, as of early December, the total face value of 31 outstanding loans came to $1,831,059. This included 29 loans to homeowners and two loans to owners of multi-family apartment buildings.

No breakdown of the total was available. However, it has been reported that one of the apartment building loans – to a complex in Hawai`i Kai – was in the amount of $861,500, or 47 percent of the total loan value.

Both the apartment loans were authorized under a program notification that took effect in September, extending GEMS loan benefits to qualified large commercial operators, among others.

— Patricia Tummons

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