If residents of Hawaii are going to have affordable electricity, the state needs to break up Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., the parent of the Hawaiian Electric Co., a former lawmaker contends.

A study of electric rates produced by WalletHub, Most & Least Energy Expensive States, puts the unit price of electricity in Hawaii at  38.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, or 4.5 times more than the cheapest state. Natural gas in Hawaii is six times more expensive than other places in the country.

Former state Sen. Fred Hemmings puts the blame squarely on politics.

“Hawaii’s most egregious for-profit monopoly is Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. Even during the last fuel crisis, Hawaiian Electric posted robust profits,” Hemmings said.

“Hawaiian Electric has been able to get away with these prices for most of the 20th century and into the 21st century because of politics. One of their biggest expenditures is their government relations division. They have friends in the Legislature.

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