Young Brothers’ Emergency 46% Rate Hike Approved, Pre-COVID Schedule to Resume Sept. 1
* Updated August 19, 4:58 AM
The Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission has approved Young Brothers’ emergency request to increase rates by 46 percent with several conditions over the next 12 months.
As a result of the Commission’s decision on Aug. 17, Young Brothers will resume the full “pre-COVID” sailing schedule by Sept. 1, 2020, which will restore an additional sailing from the ports of Hilo and Kahului to Honolulu.
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said he’s still trying to evaluate what this will mean for Maui County acknowledging it will have varying impacts on the community. “Let’s be honest,” he said, “something had to be done. At least this is a temporary and let’s see what we can do. Our economy, when it starts coming back, we need to make sure our Interisland shipping is viable and ready to move along with us to grow and continue to ship products in or out for our agricultural sector, our hospitality sector, our retail sector, all sectors as we move forward.”
The PUC’s decision also included the following conditions:
• Instituting a 12-month “stay-out” period for additional general rate increases;
• Requiring Young Brothers to provide six-months advance notice to the PUC and State if the company decides to discontinue regulated interisland service in the future;
• Requiring Young Brothers to develop and implement a comprehensive customer service plan; and
• Requiring Young Brothers to undergo a financial and management audit by an independent party selected by the PUC.
On July 7, 2020, Young Brothers filed a motion requesting “an emergency or temporary rate increase to mitigate Young Brothers’ current liquidity crisis and assist the company to continue its intrastate water carrier of property operations and services.”
Young Brothers had previously requested emergency financial assistance in the form of CARES Act funding and funding from other state or county sources, as well as third-party financing, in an attempt to alleviate its liquidity crisis, but was unsuccessful in obtaining it.
The Commission conducted an expedited review of the emergency request, including an evidentiary hearing on Aug. 14, 2020, in which Young Brothers and the Consumer Advocate participated.