KIUC head has history as spender

Current Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) President and Chief Executive Officer Harry A. “Dutch” Achenbach’s tenure as the general manager of Metlakatla (Alaska) Power and Light was basically a success, according to Metlakatla City Councilman William Wilson.

The only drawback was that city officials had to “cap” his spending for trips to the Mainland, Wilson said.

“For the most part, it was good. We left on good terms,” said Wilson. “As a consultant, he was expensive. It was not so much a question of his wages, but his tendency to travel. We put a cap on it. We ended the relationship on a good note, but we had to control his spendthrift ways.”

Metlakatla is a Tsimpshian Indian community. The town of Metlakatla is located on Annette Island at the far south end of the southeast Alaska island chain, just about 20 miles north of the borders of the United States and Canada.

Wilson said Metlakatla Power and Light is not a coop.

Wilson said Metlakatla Power leaders did install a battery energy storage system (BESS) and a diesel plant.

“The deal started before he came to work. He saw it through to its completion and operation,” Wilson said.

He said the BESS was purchased in 1996.

“It was expensive, but it stabilized the power grid, and smoothed it out,” he said. The BESS was purchased to assist in power stabilization for the Annette Hemlock (saw) Mill, by far the largest local electrical-power user. The mill closed in 1999.

Metlakatla Power and Light, whose leaders had been delinquent on U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utility Service (RUS) and related electrical loans, paid RUS officials $798,000 in November 2003, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Web site.

Much of the reason for Metlakatla Power and Light’s delinquency was the closure of the mill. Members of the KIUC board have been discussing the possible acquisition of a BESS.

In a related matter, KIUC Communications Director Anne Barnes failed to respond to a number of e-mailed questions sent to her in the aftermath of Wednesday’s KIUC board meeting, where members of the public gave the board an earful on the spending habits and lack of accountability.

No board director answered a single question or addressed any of the suggestions made.

Among the questions asked by The Garden Island were, how much rent does KIUC pay for its office space? Which KIUC employees got the nine cars purchased for more than $239,000? Why weren’t travel expenses delineated on the board’s expenditures through September 30?

  • What are KIUC’s annual legal fees to its various lawyers?
  • How much do top executives earn?
  • What is Achenbach’s payment package, and how much rent is he paying?
  • How much money has been paid to financial consultant Bill Collett?
  • Will the board petition for a rate reduction, and why didn’t board members engage other co-op members Wednesday instead of just sitting blankly?
  • Was that based on legal advice?
  • When will board members’ responses to questions asked at the Wednesday meeting be posted on the KIUC Web site?
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