Allan Smith welcomes all renewable energy options

Editor’s note: Today marks the third of seven profiles of candidates running for the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors. The candidates are competing to fill three seats made available as three-year terms expire on the nine-man board. The candidates are: Carol Bain, Jim Mayfield, Peter Thielen, Dee Crowell, David Iha, Raymond W. Paler and Allan A. Smith. Ballots were mailed the week of Feb. 25 and voting will close at 12 p.m., March 17. Today’s profile is Allan Smith.

While some of the seven Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative board candidates may be fixated on a limited number of renewable energy projects, board candidate Allan Smith won’t be one of them.

Any one technology or a combination that could help the island reduce oil imports deserves exploration and evaluation, Smith said in an interview.

“We need to capitalize on the sustainable use of our lands, biomass, ethanol and other biofuels,” he said. “We are blessed by sunshine, the (second) wettest spot on Earth (Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale) and near-consistent trade winds.”

Solar, hydropower and wind power projects can complement biomass and related projects, he said.

“Given a 15-to-20 year horizon, with our hard work, ingenuity and our ability to work together and make some sacrifices presently, I would project reducing oil dependence by 50 percentage,” he said. “It can’t be done overnight, as you know.”

Smith is one of seven candidates competing for three seats on the nine-member board whose three-year terms are expiring.

KIUC members have until noon March 17, to deliver their ballots to the KIUC headquarters on Pahe‘e Street in Lihu‘e.

If elected, Smith said he would strive to improve overall services to the more than 29,000 KIUC members.

“We should look at the actual operations of the company,” he said. “I think we can apply new technologies and practices to be more efficient for the long-term.”

Putting lines underground at new subdivisions is occurring now, but putting them underground in existing subdivisions is not always financially feasible, he said. “But we will be working on that,” Smith said.

Residents would prefer to have lines put underground so they would be less susceptible to damage during natural disasters, he said.

Lines also are put under the ground for esthetic and safety reasons, he said.

Like many other candidates who have stated they would look for ways to save KIUC monies, Smith said he welcomed KIUC’s recent announcement the cooperative will not seek an increase in standby rates.

The cooperative currently charges a standby rate of $5 per kilowatt of electricity produced from commercial distributed generation systems, and had initially requested the state Public Utilities for an increase to $30.

The fee covers the cost of maintaining parts of the oil-burning system to provide service when large-scale commercial projects that generate power outside of the grid need power.

Smith said he joined many other KIUC leaders in holding off on the increase until an assessment is done on the impact of the proposal and any overall rate hike.

“I support what KIUC is doing now,” he said. “They haven’t asked for any increase. It is not timely. They obviously need more information.”

To fashion the best standby rates and overall rates, “We need to balance short-term benefits and longtime benefits,” he said.

Smith said he is the man for the job, after recently retiring as senior vice president at Grove Farm, a company which he helped transform from a plantation to East Kaua‘i’s largest land development company.

“I have years of experience in my past professional career,” he said. “It was growing things, power production by hydro,” he said. “Under my leadership, I saw power systems and utilization of biomass energy. Lihue Plantation provided an abundance of biomass power and energy to the grid.”

Smith said he also was involved with land and management of assets while with Grove Farm, where he spent 20 years.

Some 20 other years were spent with Amfac on agri-business projects.

He said there “were a multitude of successes we are happy to be part of,” but no one project in particular.

Smith said his recent appointment as chairman of the Kaua‘i County Salary Commission won’t distract him if he is elected to the KIUC board.

“We are getting to the end of this go-around for the salary commission, and there should be no conflict,” Smith said.

Building lines of communication and serving with many of the more than 29,000 members is one way KIUC can improve its service.

“It is a slow process, but I think it can be done,” Smith said. “We need to keep working at it.”

• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@kauaipubco.com.

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