Guest Viewpoint for Tuesday — September 02, 2003

• A wake up call for a KIUC rate case


A wake up call for a KIUC rate case

The article by David Camp appearing in The Garden Island Guest Viewpoint on August 27th “Take a good look at the candidates for the KIUC Board” identifies some serious causes for concern for all Kauai electric ratepayers whether they are members of KIUC or not. The article points out that both the course KIUC is taking and the methods it is using need examination and it provides a wake up alarm for us all.

From the time of its abortive effort to acquire Kauai Electric for a price of nearly $300 million until today the KIUC Board of Directors has conducted its affairs shrouded in secrecy because this is the way its authoritarian leader wanted it. This Board denied the people it claimed it sought as members the right to vote for the KE purchase and now it is planning to buy the Kauai Power Partners facilities again without permitting members to vote. Yet it is the burden of the ratepayers to foot the bill for these costly transactions. This is not the democracy that promoters of cooperatives tell us is the hallmark of their operations.

As Mr. Camp notes the annual budget of KIUC approximates that of our County but in the case of KIUC there is a total absence of public participation in its decision making process. The tendency of the KIUC Board to invade what should be in the province of its members is aptly illustrated by its determination to reward Mr. Gardiner and another favored Board member extended terms of office to fill vacancies caused by resignations. The KIUC By-laws had reasonably enough specified that director terms would be based on votes of the members. The Board sought to justify its action as being in the interests of “consistency” but the only consistent factor is the disregard of members rights. The manipulation by the Board of the KIUC By-laws to permit this maneuver to reverse the members choice was disgraceful.

KIUC now tells us that it is buying the fossil fuel plant that is supplying over half of the power now being used on our island. We are being told not consulted. The Board is apparently abandoning its pretense of moving KIUC toward alternative energy. The Board states that despite the $40+ million price the transaction will enhance future profitability and it says current profits are ahead of projections. Electric rates remain, however, at the high level that have existed for the past seven years. Does the Board mention reducing rates? Not a word. Instead they boast that the distribution of profits somewhere down the road will be larger. Rate payers should be treated fairly. They want lower rates now. Unnecessarily high rates mistreat all ratepayers, but they are seriously discriminatory against power users who are not members. Clearly it is not the intent of the Board to ask for the Public Utilities Commission to approve lower rates. A board that works in the dark and keeps its members in the dark may leave us all in the dark (literally). Authoritarian regimes seldom become more democratic. It is evident that if a rate reduction is to occur it must be the ratepayers who request it.

What will happen if ratepayers take the traditional passive stance is increasingly obvious. The Board will ignore members rights and all power users will remain with unreasonable rates from an electric utility wedded to fossil fuel as its energy source.

The signers of this ratepayer alert were among the concerned parties that urged the PUC to deny the KIUC board’s first overpriced bid to acquire Kauai Electric. The PUC agreed and saved Kauai’s ratepayers millions of dollars. We now urge all ratepayers to write, e-mail, phone or fax the PUC and request a rate case to lower our rates using the following contact information:

PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION

465 SOUTH KING STREET #103 HONOLULU 96813

PHONE; (TOLL FREE) 274-3141 and wait for tone then press 62020 and press the # sign

FAX; (808) 586-2068

E-MAIL: mailto:Hawaii.puc@ hawaii.gov.

Tony Allen, Carol Bain, Ray Chuan, Ed Coll, Chick Lanphier, Walter Lewis, David Seielstad

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