Young Brothers seeks rate hike

LIHUE — A state commission will host a series of public, statewide meetings in July as part of an investigation of a shipping company’s application to increase its interisland shipping rates.

A meeting on Kauai is tentatively scheduled for July 6, 2 p.m., at the state office building.

The Public Utilities Commission is considering Young Brothers Ltd.’s application to raise shipping rates by 4.36 percent, which will generate an increase in revenue by $3.13 million for the shipping company, according to a PUC public docket.

Young Brothers filed the application on April 12.

Roy Catalani, Young Brothers vice president, said the PUC approved rate increases of 5.5 percent in 2013 and 2.21 percent in 2014. Young Brothers did not seek a rate adjustment in 2015.

“There are several drivers for the proposed increase that include increased costs of doing business, such as costs associated with dry-docking Young Brothers’ vessels on the U.S. mainland, and relatively low cargo volume growth to support YB’s 12 weekly regularly scheduled round trip sailings to the neighbor islands,” Catalani said.

The suspension period for the application, according to the PUC, will be for a maximum of six months.

The PUC said the Consumer Advocate “contends that Young Brothers has not fully complied with the Commission’s requirement for a rate increase application,” and that the application lacked details.

The Consumer Advocate also said Young Brothers did not provide information on distribution of revenues and expenses from the carrier’s affiliates.

Young Brothers argues that it “has fully complied with the requirements applicable to a water carrier’s application for a general rate increase.” It says the “need for rate relief” is driven primarily by cargo volume forecasts and increased operating expenses.

Young Brothers has 360 employees across the state, including 23 on Kauai.

The public may provide written comments to the commission by postal mail at Public Utilities Commission, 465 South King Street #103, Honolulu HI, 96813; or by email at Hawaii.PUC@hawaii.gov. Comments should reference docket No. 2016-0014 and include the author’s name and the entity or organization that the author represents.

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