Hawaiian Electric Sees Share Price Drop By 40%

Tragedy continues to loom over Maui Hawaii. Since multiple wildfires first began on August 8th, over 1,000 people have been declared dead or missing. Over $6 billion in losses are estimated to have been caused in the blazes, with over 3,000 homes and businesses destroyed or damaged in the deadliest fire on American soil in over 100 years. Lahaina, a major town on the island, has been laid to ruins; the English translation of the name means “cruel sun”. While the physical toll of the disaster remains staggering, the financial ramifications are quickly being felt by many, with some of the affected hundreds of miles from Hawaii.

Hawaiian Electric, an electric services company based in Kahului, has seen its shares drop nearly a staggering 40% since August 14th amid mounting pressures and worries that the utility provider may be held liable for the occurrences of the several wildfires in Maui. The company now faces a class action lawsuit filed on August 12th, which claims that the company continued to keep power lines running despite weather forecasts which projected high winds and created environmental factors presenting a high risk for fires. The company provides 95% of power for inhabitants of the Aloha state.

Hawaiian Electric had a stock price of $17.68 previous to the occurrence of the fires; the price dropped to around $8 in the week. And although the price did increase by some 14% on August 18th, most experts state that the company faces a major legal battle. Due to the nature of the state’s liability standard, many professionals claim that the company is unlikely to avoid liability and may even essentially be worthless. When examining a similar case, the Californian power company PG & E was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2019 after paying $25 billion following wildfire damages resulting from downed power lines. Ultimately, whatever the fate of Hawaiian Electric, the tragedy in Maui remains devastating.