Deadly Maui Wildfire Exposes Risk of U.S. Utility Stocks for Asset Owners
Posted on 08/21/2023
The devastating wildfires on Hawaii’s Maui island are the deadliest in the U.S. in over a century. Deaths are estimated at over 1,000 people including children and young families who were abandoned by the government both state and federal. Local news reports that various people have not seen Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The designated burn zone includes the historic seaside town of Lahaina, home to about 12,000 people. Government officials put the total killed to at least 114 people. According to the Maui County mayor, 850 people remain unaccounted for. Days after since the wildfire, families have reported who is missing. Authorities in Hawaii are refusing to release the number of dead people hoping public anger will die down.
TRAGEDY: Dead Kids
On August 2023 on the CBS Show “Face the Nation” Hawaii Governor Josh Green said it is “possible” that many of the victims are children who were at home while schools were closed. According to the Hawaii State Department of Education, August 8, 2023 was the students’ first day back at school. However, Lahainaluna High School was closed that day because of a power outage caused by high winds. U.S. President Joe Biden is pausing his vacation in Lake Tahoe, Nevada to finally tour fire devastation in Maui. Biden is renting a Tahoe home of billionaire hedge fund honcho Tom Steyer. Biden’s trip following a period of public silence where he was criticized by local Hawaiians for his “no comment” while spending time at his Delaware beach house.
U.S. Power Companies
Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. is the largest supplier of electricity in the U.S. state of Hawaii, supplying power to 95% of Hawaii’s population through its electric utilities: Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., Hawai’i Electric Light Company, Inc. and Maui Electric Company, Limited. At around midnight on August 8, 2023, a brush fire was ignited in the Kula area in the central part of Maui. This fire quickly spread. Power lines that were owned by Hawaiian Electric were blown down.
Some of the largest ETFs allocated to Hawaiian Electric Industries is Nordea 1 – Global Climate and Environment Fund. The Vanguard Group, Inc., BlackRock Fund Advisors, Nordea Investment Management AB, SSgA Funds Management, Inc., and First Trust Advisors LP are the largest shareholders of the company, according to recent filings.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) was responsible for California wildfires years back. PG&E has previously reached settlements with all wildfire victims’ groups valued at approximately US$ 25.5 billion. PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019. The concept of inverse condemnation exposed California utilities to liabilities from wildfires regardless of their negligence, as long as their equipment is involved.