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Hawaiian Electric Industries Shuffles Leadership Following Maui Wildfire

Hawaiian Electric Industries shuffled its leadership structure following a historic wildfire last month that has snarled the company.

The utility company said Tayne Sekimura, senior vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of its subsidiary Hawaiian Electric, will retire on Sept. 30. The retirement plans were announced internally early this year, it said.

Paul Ito, executive vice president, CFO and treasurer of Hawaiian Electric Industries, will serve as SVP, CFO and treasurer of the subsidiary until about Dec. 31, 2024, to assist during the transition and provide additional time to appoint a successor to Sekimura. The subsidiary said it was progressing on naming a successor, but its plans were upended by the wildfire on Maui. Ito will return to Hawaiian Electric Industries and resume his original role immediately following his term at the subsidiary.

Scott DeGhetto was appointed EVP, CFO and treasurer of Hawaiian Electric Industries, effective Oct. 1 through about Dec. 31, 2024. He joins from Moelis & Co. DeGhetto will remain at Hawaiian Electric Industries in an advisory role from approximately Jan. 1, 2025 until April 1, 2025 to provide for a transition around Ito’s return.

The leadership changes come at a tenuous for Hawaiian Electric, which has drawn scrutiny following the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in more than a century. That includes a flurry of lawsuits from victims’ families and Maui County alleging that its equipment played a role in igniting the blaze. A U.S. House committee has asked top Hawaii energy officials, including the chief executive of Hawaiian Electric, to testify at a hearing on the causes of the wildfire.

The company has denied wrongdoing, saying that its power lines weren’t responsible for the wildfire, and has blamed Maui County firefighters of an inadequate response. The utility has said it would investigate any role its infrastructure may have played.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Hawaiian Electric knew for years about the mounting risk of wildfires on Maui, but had made little progress on fire-prevention efforts and was instead focused on a statewide push to convert to renewable energy.

Full Story: MarketWatch September 18 2023

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