Council committee shows support for KE sale to KIUC

A Kaua’i County Council committee yesterday voted to give preliminary support to the proposed $215 million sale of Kauai Electric to the Kauai Island Utility Co-op.

The issue is expected to be taken up by the full council next Wednesday, and a vote on a motion to support the sale is expected.

Meeting at the historic County Building, members of the council’s energy and public safety committee said they agreed with a July 31 decision by the state Public Utilities Commission giving its preliminary approval of the utility sale.

County officials said the council’s position on the sale could influence the PUC’s final decision on whether to approve or reject the sale.

The PUC must approve the sale between the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative and the Citizens Communications Corp. of Stamford, Conn., before it becomes official.

The council committee’s stand runs counter to a preliminary position by Mayor Maryanne Kusaka’s administration opposing the sale.

Among other issues, administration officials raised concerns about KIUC’s revenue projections and large power users leaving the electrical grid.

The council committee’s support of the sale is conditional though.

The committee said it:

– wants the opportunity to submit to the PUC any new information, including public responses that may arise from the administration’s preliminary position statement opposing the sale.

– wants KIUC to amend existing bylaws so that board meetings will be properly announced before they are held.

– wants to do away with special degree requirements for at least three members of the board.

– wants bylaws and resolutions not to be amended before the election of a permanent governance board, except for amendments are required by the PUC, federal, state or county law.

– agrees with the PUC’s amended schedule calling for final positions on the sale by Kauai Electric, KIUC, the state Consumer Advocate, the Navy and Kaua’i County, to be submitted by Sept. 10, rather than Sept. 17.

David Proudfoot, a Kaua’i attorney who represents the KIUC board but not in an official capacity yesterday, said he had concerns about the education requirement for inclusion onto the board and resolutions and amendments related to the election of a KIUC board.

Gary Hooser, who heads the council committee, said the education requirement was inserted in the motion to allow a residents without expertise in running a utility to sit on the board.

Hooser also said Proudfoot’s second concern was connected with education requirements.

Councilman Jimmy Tokioka said the full council is likely to look at Proudfoot’s concerns and those of any citizen before it makes a decision next Wednesday on whether to support the utility sale.

Staff Writer Lester Chang can be reached at mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 225).

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