KE sale to KIUC is focus of council meeting

Whether the Kaua’i County Council will support the proposed $215 million sale of Kauai Electric to the Kaua’i Island Utility Co-op is expected to take top priority at its meeting set for Thursday, Aug. 22.

The council, which will consider other matters as well, is to meet at 1 p.m. at the historic Kaua’i County Building.

The council’s energy and public safety committee last week agreed with a July 31 decision by the state Public Utilities Commission that gave preliminary approval of the utility sale.

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

The administration has concerns about revenue projections by the KIUC and the possibility of large users leaving Kauai Electric’s electric grid to develop their own power.

County officials have said the full council’s position on the sale could influence the PUC’s final decision on the proposed sale.

The PUC must approve the sale between KIUC and the Citizens Communications Corp. of Stamford, Conn., before the sale becomes final.

The council is expected to vote on a proposed charter amendment allowing the council to create an electrical power authority.

The authority would be empowered to run Kauai Electric should the KIUC sale fail and the county approves a bond issue to buy the utility for management by an authority autonomous from county control.

The council also will take up the following items:

– Excessive barking dogs and dangerous dogs bills.

In a letter to council chairman Ron Kouchi, Kusaka said the first fatal dog attack in Hawai’i in 20 years occurred last summer on the Big Island. In the attack a youth was mauled by a neighbor’s dog.

The Kaua’i community was already alarmed when three loose dogs killed a horse on the North Shore last May, Kusaka said. There are no suspects in the case.

The state of Hawai’i responded by passing a law which empowered counties to enforce dangerous dog laws, she said.

Kaua’i County has no dangerous dog law at this time, but the bill, if passed, will correct this shortcoming, Kusaka said.

Such a law would require action by an owner to prevent their dog from attacking again, she said.

The barking dog bill addresses incessant barking, which creates a nuisance in neighborhoods, Kusaka said.

Both bills are modeled after Honolulu laws, where they have been “tried and reviewed thoroughly as to any conflict with existing state statutes as well as effectiveness,” Kusaka said.

– The prosecutor’s office is asking the council to apply for, receive and use a $57,733 federal grant to stop violence against women.

– Amendment of a Kaua’i County bill related to parking for disabled persons.

The county is proposing the changes to march in step with changes that have been made in the state law.

Among the highlights, the county bill proposes increasing the fine for people without disabilities who park in stalls for persons with disabilities from $25 to $250 to $250 to $500; defining a person with a disability and changing the wording on county signs from “disabled” to “a person with a disability.”

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

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