PUC decision on sale of Kauai Electric set for release today

The state Public Utilities Commission is today scheduled to release its decision on whether commissioners will allow Kaua’i Island Utility Co-op to purchase Kauai Electric.

State attorneys were drafting the decision document yesterday, said Kevin Katsura, a staff attorney for the PUC.

The Navy, the state’s Consumer Advocate and the County of Kaua’i were granted intervenor status in the sale by the PUC. All have approved the sale, however the County of Kaua’i in its final position statement on the sale asked the PUC to add an immediate six percent electrical rate cut upon completion of the sale and other stipulations that KIUC leaders have said could kill the sale.

The PUC this summer issued a preliminary statement indicating it would approve a sale under certain conditions.

In many ways, the deal is far from done even if the PUC renders a favorable decision today, said Gregg Gardiner, KIUC board chairman.

He and Alton Miyamoto, KE manager, leave Kaua’i are set to depart for Portland this morning where meetings with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service, cooperative financing entities, and others were arranged.

The technical closing of the sale, if PUC approval comes today as expected, will include “intense, detail-oriented” discussions involving the exchange of ownership of land, equipment and leases, Gardiner said.

No less than 15 separate transition teams will work to ensure the change from investor-owned utility to rate-payer-owned co-op is seamless, he said.

Members of the various transition teams have specific responsibilities, looking at every aspect of the business, from making sure all insurance policies remain in place, employee retirement systems continue to function, various leases are transferred, accounting services are ready to operate for the co-op, and other functions flow smoothly from ownership of Citizens Communications in Stamford, Conn., to co-op ownership in Lihu’e, Gardiner said.

When the actual day comes when buyer and seller sign the papers making the deal official, it will be anticlimactic in that the transition work will be long since finished, Gardiner concluded.

– TGI Editor Chris Cook contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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