Hawaiian Electric Hits 40-Year Low Ahead of Maui Fire Report

Hawaiian Electric stock hit a 40-year low in the wake of a local news report that a probe of the devastating Maui fires does not find fault with first responders.

Shares fell as much as 18% to $8.74, the lowest since October 1984.

The utility has come under scrutiny for its possible role in last year’s wildfire, which killed 101 people, caused more than $5.5 billion in damages and wiped out the historic town of Lahaina.

The report, following an investigation by State Attorney Anne Lopez and slated for release Wednesday, may help mitigate liability for Maui County in ongoing litigation based on the proper handling of the situation by first responders, said Josh Price, an analyst for Capstone. Maui News Now reported the contents of the report after markets closed Monday.

Hawaiian Electric has said high winds knocked down its power lines and caused a fire near Lahaina the morning of Aug. 8 and fire fighters contained that blaze. But it said its power lines didn’t cause the flames that burned down the historic town later that day.

Attorneys for victims’ families have sued, alleging Hawaiian Electric was negligent for the blaze because the utility didn’t turn off the power despite forecasts of wildfire risk. The County of Maui also has sued over assertions the utility failed to properly prepare equipment for the threat of wildfires.

The Maui Fire Department is expected to release a separate report Tuesday detailing its response to the wildfires, according to news reports.

The stock closed at $9.52, down 10.69%.

Top photo: This photo provided by the Morgan & Morgan law firm shows a charred Hawaiian Electric utility pole stump in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii on Aug. 29, 2023. Investigators are examining this and other pieces of evidence as they seek to solve the mystery of how a small, wind-whipped fire sparked by downed power lines and declared extinguished flare up again hours later into a devastating inferno. (Morgan & Morgan via AP).