Planning underway for KIUC board election, tentatively scheduled for February 2003

At the same time several transition teams work to ensure a seamless transition from investor-owned Kauai Electric to rate-payer-owned Kaua’i Island Utility Co-op, other teams are rushing to educate people on matters concerning the first public election of KIUC’s board of directors.

When the state Public Utilities Commission approved the sale of KE to KIUC, the PUC suggested that an election of a new KIUC board be held within 120 days of the date of the PUC’s decision, or by Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2003.

The KIUC plan was to hold an election within 120 days of the closing of the sale, which would be Friday, Feb. 28, 2003, if the sale closes on Thursday, Oct. 31 as expected.

Between now and then, lots of work has to be done to identify co-op members, consolidate accounts of people who now may have more than one KE account, come up with a name list of co-op members for voting purposes, and basically set up a timetable and process for the election that is similar to the routine state and county elections officials go through when scheduling primary and general elections, said Gregg Gardiner, current KIUC board chair.

National co-op officials said the formation of KIUC and purchase of KE couldn’t have been accomplished without the establishment of a founding, interim board of directors, especially for the acquisition legwork.

Even that board has undergone several changes of personnel.

But it was always the intention of the founding and current KIUC board to have members elect a new board once the acquisition was complete, Gardiner said.

The process of electing a new board is now moving, beginning with a public-education campaign by KIUC not only to let people know the benefits of co-op membership and other aspects of the change of KE ownership, but to let them know how the election of a new board will be effected, he continued.

An informational packet will be sent out to all KE customers this week, and a following mail-out will include information about what the election process entails, he said.

There will be notices of the formation of a nominating committee, ample opportunity for members to gain enough signatures (around 40) to become candidates for board seats themselves, mail-out and return of ballots, counting and certification of election results by an independent certified public accountant and impartial observer, and other safeguards installed to ensure an election with integrity, he explained.

Whether or not that can happen within the suggested PUC timeline is uncertain at this time, he said.

But KIUC is working toward making the PUC’s suggestion a reality, he stressed. “We’re trying hard to move the process up, but we’re not sure how much it can be moved up.”

Rate-payers once the deal closes will automatically become co-op members, unless they show intent to opt out of co-op membership.

Those who opt out – Gardiner doesn’t think that will be a significant number – will still get electricity, but will not be eligible for rebates that co-op members will enjoy, cannot vote in board elections, or be eligible to run for board seats, he said.

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

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