OI Subcommittee Chair Griffith Presses Maui Officials for Additional Information Following Oversight Hearing on Catastrophic Fires

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) submitted the following questions for the record as a continuation of the Committee’s investigation into the deadly Maui fires. 

“I appreciate the witnesses appearing before the Subcommittee and for their cooperation with our investigation. There are still too many questions surrounding the sequence of events that led to the devastating fires on Maui. We must work together to clarify these uncertain details so communities in Hawaii and around the country can be better prepared in the future. I look forward to the witnesses’ prompt responses,” said Subcommittee Chair Griffith.


The Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing on September 28 titled "Investigating the Role of Electric Infrastructure in the Catastrophic Maui Fire." The Committee heard testimony from:

  • Shelee Kimura, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hawaiian Electric 
  • Leodoloff R. Asuncion, Jr., Chairman, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission 
  • Mark B. Glick, Chief Energy Officer, Hawai’i State Energy Office 

CLICK HERE to view the hearing. 

Following the conclusion of a hearing, members are permitted to submit additional questions for the record to the witnesses to inquiry. Witnesses are required to respond under oath. All questions and responses will be made available as part of the hearing’s public record.

Chair Griffith submitted the following questions for the record and requested the following information. Responses are expected by October 27, 2023. 

Questions for Ms. Kimura and requested documents include: 

  • During the hearing, you stated that “the red flag warning was initiated overnight on August 7th, and by the morning of August 7th, at 7:00 a.m., we had instituted our protocols.” You also stated that parts of the state experienced higher winds than forecast. 
  • When did Hawaiian Electric or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates (referred to here collectively as “Hawaiian Electric”) become aware of the red flag warning in place prior to the fires? Please provide a specific date and time if possible. 
  • When did Hawaiian Electric become aware that the winds on August 7th and 8th were stronger than forecasted? 
  • Does Hawaiian Electric monitor weather conditions on a real-time basis? 
  • During the hearing, you stated that Hawaiian Electric had “teams” getting information from “third parties” on weather conditions. 
  • Who composes these teams? 
  • Who are the third parties? 
  • Is this information you referred to real-time information about current weather conditions, or forecasts? 
  • Currently, what actions would Hawaiian Electric take if its employees or contractors identify a tree that appears to be at risk of contacting one of Hawaiian Electric’s lines, should it fall? 
  • What actions would Hawaiian Electric take if its employees or contractors identify a large branch that overhangs its power lines? 
  • According to the Wildfire Mitigation Plan, “Hawaiian Electric’s vegetation management programs involve trimming, removing, and herbicide spraying of vegetation on prescribed cycles and is limited to the boundaries of the right-of-way and roadsides.” The Wildfire Mitigation Plan also stated, “Further trimming of the already low-lying vegetation will not likely produce any appreciable results in the potential wildfire areas.” It also stated, “Vegetation Management contractor, Asplundh, confirmed that the vegetation type that exists in the potential wildfire areas of Oahu and Maui do not require more trimming for wildfire mitigation purposes.” 
  • How did Hawaiian Electric determine that trimming low-lying vegetation would not likely produce appreciable results? 
  • Did Hawaiian Electric contract or consult with anyone in addition to Asplundh in reaching this determination? If so, please list that individual or entity. 
  • When did Hawaiian Electric consult with Asplundh to reach the above conclusion? Please provide the specific date, if possible. 
  • Please provide all documents to show all vegetation management work done by or for Hawaiian Electric from 2019 to August 7th, 2023, including schedules, inspection records, plans, invoices, contracts and subcontracts. 

CLICK HERE to read full list of questions for Ms. Kimura and requested documents. 

Questions for Mr. Asuncion include:

  • If the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (the Commission) finds that a utility is not complying with regulations or if a utility is not responding to ratepayer reports of maintenance problems, what measures can the Commission take to hold the utility accountable? 
  • For instance, if a ratepayer reports to the power company that vegetation growing under or on a powerline requires trimming, how does the Commission verify that that work was performed? And if that work is not performed, what enforcement action does the Commission take? How does the Commission exercise enforcement if they find that the power company is not conducting its due diligence to mitigate risks to the public? 
  • What steps has the Commission taken to monitor or oversee vegetation management activities by Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries or affiliates (referred to here collectively as “Hawaiian Electric”) in the past five years? 
  • Hawaiian Electric’s response to the Committee’s August 30, 2023, letter states that Hawaiian Electric began developing a Wildfire Mitigation Plan in 2019 and finalized the plan in January 2023. The Committee is aware of a document filed with the Commission on October 2, 2023. According to the Wall Street Journal, Hawaiian Electric shared a copy with the Commission on September 27, 2023. When did the Commission first receive this plan?

CLICK HERE to read the full list of questions for Mr. Asuncion.