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    Hawaiian energy regulators recently approved a rate hike for Hawaiian Electric Co., which could in time affect residents all over the island chain, CBS News reports.

    According to the news source, the Oahu-based utility was given the OK to increase electricity rates by 3.4 percent, a raise that will go into effect sometime in July on an interim basis. Hawaiian Electric, a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., announced earlier in the week that the rate hike will also come with an adjustment that will provide customers with a small refund.

    The refund will allow $800,000 – including interest – to be used to give a typical residential energy user who consumes 600 kilowatt-hours per month 85 cents back. The decision, however, will not affect the current price of electricity, as the decision approved interim rates that had already been processed on customers' electricity bills.

    Hawaii, whose residents pay about three times the national average for electricity, could greatly benefit from energy deregulation laws. States such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio that have implemented such laws have seen major reductions in electricity rates as competition between retail energy providers drives rates lower.