The next chair of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission will have big shoes to fill when Hermina Morita steps down from the agency, which charged with making key decisions affecting the industry's future in the Islands.
The state agency is at a crucial juncture this year, especially with regard to Florida-based NextEra Energy's $4.3 billion pending acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co. on its docket.
The three-member commission, which includes Morita and commissioners Michael Champley and Lorraine Akiba, also has seen its caseload increase, stemming from the state's major push towards integrating more renewables and diversifying its fuel mix with such fuels as natural gas.
Morita, the former longtime state lawmaker, does not have an exact date to leave her position just yet.
Some names to keep an eye on as possible replacements for Morita include state Sen. Mike Gabbard, D-Kapolei-Makakilo-Ewa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment; Doug Codiga, a Honolulu energy attorney; Mark Glick, administrator for the state Energy Office; Ted Liu, former director of the state Department of Economic Development and Tourism; Robbie Alm, former executive vice president for Hawaiian Electric Co.; Doug McLeod, former energy commissioner for Maui County and Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Honolulu-based renewable energy nonprofit Blue Planet Foundation.
"It's the governor's call," Ted Peck, former state Energy Office Administrator, told PBN Tuesday, referring to the chair position. "He could make a new person chair or he could make Lorraine [Akiba] chair. She would make an outstanding chair."