LIHU’E (AP) — A cooperative has formally applied to own and operate Kauai
The Kauai Island Utility Co-op and Citizens Utilities,
the current owner, have filed a joint application with the state Public
The cooperative of Kauai Electric ratepayers is
paying $270 million dollars for the utility.
Attorney Alan Oshima, who
represents both parties, said the state consumer advocate has agreed to an
expedited process. Approval of the purchase is expected by fall.
said he anticipates a challenging approval process, and expects many questions
from the consumer advocate.
This will be the first time a cooperative has
sought to acquire a public utility in Hawaii. But Oshima said it is a
well-developed method of utility ownership.
Dick Heitman, transition team
leader for the co-op, said the cooperative will provide local control of the
utility, provide tax benefits and remove the need to produce a profit for
He also said there is a commitment to lower Kauai Electric’s
rates, which are the highest in the nation for a utility its size.
co-op chairman Gregg Gardiner said it will be several years before rates can be
Under existing state laws, the cooperative will be regulated by
the PUC, Oshima said. It would take action by the Legislature to make it exempt
from PUC control, he said.