KIUC gives members holiday gift

Members of the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors are giving co-op members a holiday gift next month.

Around $50 off their monthly electric bill.

KIUC officials received the final approval needed to grant rate-payers a $3.8-million break on their bills in December, a KIUC spokesperson said.

For an average residential ratepayer, the credit will amount to about $50, according to the spokesperson.

Co-op leaders received notice over the weekend that officials at the federal agency that provides loans for electric cooperatives (the Rural Utilities Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture) has approved KIUC leaders’ request to allow the $3.8 million credit on December bills, according to the KIUC spokesperson.

Members of the co-op board asked for the credit around a month ago.

Since the co-op was formed in November 2002, KIUC leaders have already returned $8.9 million to ratepayers, not counting the $3.8 million credit now approved for December, the KIUC spokesperson said.

Co-op leaders expect to return another $3 million more in March, which would bring the total to $15.7 million in credits or payments benefiting its members.

“If Kaua’i’s electric utility were owned by a for-profit company, this would not have happened,” said Gregg Gardiner, KIUC board chairman.

“This is how the nonprofit, co-op financial model works. When we do better than our budgets project, we return the money,” said Gardiner.

“With rate increases being typical across the state due to higher fuel costs, KIUC is the only utility that has provided rate relief,” said Harry A. “Dutch” Achenbach, KIUC president and chief executive officer.

The $15.7 million total amounts to a 4.3-percent reduction of the basic electric rate for Kaua’i, while rate-payers on O’ahu are paying 3.3 percent more, and face an additional 1.9-percent rate hike that is pending for their for-profit utility, Gardiner pointed out.

“Like other co-ops across the United States, KIUC continues our efforts to move toward a more renewable-energy future, to support local community groups through economic-development programs, and to contribute to our community and its young people,” Achenbach said.

“But at the end of the day the most important thing we do is provide electricity as economically, safely, and reliably as possible, despite very-challenging circumstances,” concluded Achenbach.

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