County won’t appeal PUC decision approving sale of Kauai Electric

Mayor Maryanne Kusaka announced yesterday that the county has no plans to appeal Tuesday’s state Public Utilities Commission approval of the sale of Kauai Electric to Kaua’i Island Utility Co-op.

County Council Chair Ron Kouchi said that because of the way the sale application was filed, the only legal avenue available to the county would be to request PUC reconsideration of a decision and order it had just issued.

“Several members of the public have asked the administration if we intend to appeal this PUC decision,” Kusaka said.

“Based on my discussion with legal counsel, it appears that the nature of the proceeding was such that the rights of appeal are extremely limited. Therefore, I do not plan to pursue an appeal,” the Mayor said.

Kouchi said the PUC has rendered its decision, and now it is up to the people of Kaua’i to work together to help make co-op ownership (actually rate-payer ownership) of Kauai Electric a success.

“The time has come for everyone to pull together to make the co-op a success,” Kouchi said. “The PUC has made its ruling, and it is now up to us to show that we can work together to support the cooperative and build a strong economy and control our own energy future.”

Kusaka appeared hopefully optimistic.

“I am hopeful that the risks and uncertainties that we’ve pointed out during this process don’t materialize, and that the financial projections they’ve made will be realized,” she said.

“And I’m hopeful that KIUC (and) its officers and managers will maintain all of their commitments, representations and promises, so that this project will move forward in the best interests of the rate-payers,” the Mayor said.

“For the employees of Kauai Electric, I’m happy that a decision has been made. They have lived in uncertainty for nearly three years,” Kusaka commented. “This will be a welcome relief from that.”

The county’s final position statement requested that the PUC demand an immediate 6-percent rate decrease be filed by the co-op if the PUC approved the sale, a request the PUC denied.

Kouchi said that although the immediate rate relief isn’t going to happen, patronage capital, or rebates based on percentages of bills paid by rate-payers planned to be refunded annually, will be much better than a rate increase that most parties saw on the horizon if KE continued to be operated by for-profit Citizens Communications, which owns KE now.

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