Empowering Consumers: Accessing Affordable Utility Programs in Hawaii

Posted on May 14, 2024 in Hot Topics, Main

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The Hawai‘i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Division of Consumer Advocacy (DCA) remains dedicated to empowering consumers and supporting ratepayers in Hawai‘i. The Division highlights information on utility bill assistance programs and opportunities for input towards permanent affordability solutions and upcoming energy projects and initiatives.  

“Our goal is to empower consumers with knowledge and helpful resources to help them navigate challenging economic situations and access means to permanently decrease their utility bills,” said Michael Angelo, Consumer Advocate and Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Advocacy.  

Below are a range of programs for consumers and ratepayers to be aware of. For more information on these programs and how to access them, consumers should visit the direct websites of each company and program.  

Affordability Solutions:  

  • GEM$ On-Bill Program: Upfront costs dissipate through a financing system structured around bill savings, enabling consumers to offset expenses over time. 

Learn more at https://gems.hawaii.gov/participate-now/. 

  • Hawaii Energy Efficiency Tips and Rebate Programs: Connecting with Hawaii Energy offers long-term solutions through energy efficiency tips and strategies to permanently reduce utility bills. Hawaii Energy also offers cash rebates that help you invest in energy-efficient equipment for your home.   

Learn more at https://hawaiienergy.com/for-homes/tips-to-save-energy/. 

  • Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) – Save Energy and Money: On their site, HECO provides household tips and resources, an Energy Consumption Calculator, Energy Savings Toolkit, and details on the Shift and Save Program. HECO also has a new online tool called “My Energy Use” portal that allows customers to view energy use. If an advanced meter has recently been installed, it can help better manage energy use and electric bills on a daily basis. 

Save Energy and Money: https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/products-and-services/save-energy-and-money  

Energy Use Portal:https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/clean-energy-hawaii/grid-modernization-technologies/advanced-meters/my-energy-use-portal  

  • Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) – Shift and Save Program: Through this program HECO offers Time-of-Use (TOU) rates which enables customers to save money if energy use is shifted away from the high-demand evening and overnight hours that are at a higher kWh rate.  

Learn more at https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/products-and-services/save-energy-and-money/shift-and-save  

  • Community-Based Renewable Energy (CBRE): CBRE initiatives offer innovative approaches for consumers to access renewable energy sources, potentially reducing electricity bills in the long term by allowing electric utility customers to purchase shares in a renewable energy facility to offset their monthly energy consumption via a credit for that renewable energy on their utility bills. 

Learn more at https://energy.hawaii.gov/get-engaged/community-based-renewable-energy/. 

  • Hawaii Gas – Good Energy Tips: Hawaii Gas provides energy saving tips to help reduce gas bills.  

Learn more at https://www.hawaiigas.com/for-home/good-energy-tips.

  • WaterSensible Program: The Honolulu Board of Water Supply – WaterSensible program aims to preserve water by offering conservation incentives for residents and businesses, including rebates and initiatives for both residential and commercial sectors, and WaterWisdom program for condominiums and townhome complexes.  

Learn more at https://www.boardofwatersupply.com/watersensible. 

Financial Assistance with Utility Bills 

General Utility:  

  • Aloha United Way 2-1-1: provides vital assistance and resources for individuals facing challenges in meeting their rental and utility payments.  

Learn more at https://auw211.org/.  

  • Salvation Army: provides vital assistance and resources for individuals facing challenges in meeting their utility payments.  

Learn more at https://hawaii.salvationarmy.org/hawaii_2/fso/.  

  • Low Income Household Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): LIHEAP provides gas or electric assistance to Hawai‘i households in need by assisting with a one-time payment toward their electric or gas bill. (Applications Open from June 1st 2024 through June 30th 2024).  

Learn more at https://www.hcapweb.org/low-income-home-energy-assistance-program-liheap/ 

Electricity 

  • Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) Payment Arrangements: HECO offers flexible payment arrangements to support consumers in managing electricity bills effectively. 

Learn more at https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/billing-and-payment/payment-assistance/payment-arrangement-options. 

  • Ohana Energy Gift Program by Hawaiian Electric: A thoughtful and practical way to gift friends, family, or help those in need with their electricity bills. Instructions for gifting are available via mail for Oahu, Maui County and Hawai‘i Island residents. 

Learn more at https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/billing-and-payment/payment-assistance/ohana-energy-gift-program. 

  • Hawaiian Electric Company Special Medical Needs Rate Program (SMNP): Provides a $.04 per kWh discount on the first 500 kilowatt-hours in any month for qualifying customers with special medical needs. Maximum savings is $20 in a given month.  

Learn more at https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/billing-and-payment/payment-assistance/special-medical-needs. 

Telecommunications: 

  • Lifeline Program: Provides a discount on monthly telephone service for qualifying low-income individuals. 

Learn more at https://www.lifelinesupport.org/ 

  • Internet Kokua Program: Hawaiian Telcom provides discounts on Internet service for those who meet certain qualifications. If a service address is copper served, it may be eligible to receive High-Speed Internet Basic (up to 7 Mbps download) for $9.95/month, which includes the Wireless Gateway Service Fee. 

Learn more at https://www.hawaiiantel.com/Residential/Discounted-services-for-qualified-Hawaii-residents. 

  • Kupuna TV Discount: Hawaiian Telcom provides discounts on Base Package Tier for those who meet certain qualifications. 

Learn more at https://www.hawaiiantel.com/Residential/Discounted-services-for-qualified-Hawaii-residents 

Water: 

  • Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP): Provides aid to low-income households to manage water-related expenses. 

Learn more at https://www.hcapweb.org/low-income-home-energy-assistance-program-liheap/ 

Note: The Division of Consumer Advocacy does not endorse any specific program but serves as an information source for consumers seeking information on available assistance. It’s important to note that the status of these programs, including available funds, and eligibility requirements are subject to change without notice.  

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About the Division of Consumer Advocacy: The Division of Consumer Advocacy works diligently to safeguard consumer interests in public utility services. Committed to fairness and transparency, DCA supports consumers across utility sectors, ensuring affordability, safety, and reliability. Follow DCA on social media at https://www.facebook.com/DCCAHawaii/.