Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 |
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•Time to make decisions
•Cooperation key to co-op’s future
Time to make decisions
Time Magazine last week reported that the auto industry will make a big jump in production when the economy gets back to normal. The relevance of this article about the future growth of cars on the Mainland relates to upcoming stress for the people of Kaua‘i.
As the economy gets better, and it will, people will begin buying more cars. The stats say that people will begin selling the cars they’ve been holding back on trading for new ones. On Kaua‘i people usually keep their cars a tad longer than their counterparts on the Mainland. As the economy gets better there still will be more cars purchased on Kaua‘i than being sold.
That means our traffic problems now will double in four years. We have done nothing to solve this problem except add a new lane to the Wailua Bridge and Kuhio Highway to the bypass.
The additional lanes scheduled for Kaumualii Highway have been postponed for two years now and will take three years to be completed in segments. We must start now by creating a connector road (Pouli Road) from Kuhio Highway to the bypass mitigating traffic at this, the most congested part of the island. We need to press the state to begin working on the famous Relief Route.
The Pouli Road connector has been brought to the attention of community leaders for years now. Will our mayor and council act to find a way to head off this coming traffic dilemma? We know it’s bad now, it will get worse. Time to make decisions.
Bob Bartolo, KBA Traffic Committee
Cooperation key to co-op’s future
For years there has been something of a shadow around KIUC and the community has often expressed frustration regarding both the cost of electricity and the way in which our co-operative is run.
Many, including myself, have been vocal about the need for a more rapid transition to renewable energy on Kaua‘i. Some in the community feel that KIUC is moving too slow, and even that there may be self-dealing, special interest or other self-serving motives at work at KIUC that prevent the co-op from acting in our best interest.
Having spent several years working with KIUC’s directors, management and employees as a community advocate, I believe this perception of wrongdoing is false and that they do, in fact, have our best interest in mind. My own view on our fledgling co-op is that we, both KIUC and the community, have simply not achieved any type of consensus on what our “best interest” consists of. The primary reason for this failure is plain old poor communication by KIUC and the community.
Recent events have provided an opportunity for that to change. KIUC has announced their intent to raise the base rate of our electricity. Although many Kauaians might initially bemoan a rate increase, it is imperative that we listen to what our co-op is saying.
The base rate, in rough terms, includes all the costs to run the co-op outside of the direct cost of generating electricity. This includes taxes, depreciation, loan payments, administrative costs, transmission and distribution, engineering and legal costs. Although we have all seen our bills fluctuate wildly over the past year, this has been driven only by the price of oil which currently fuels our electricity generation. KIUC has not asked for a base rate increase in 12 years. Simply put: our co-op leadership is asserting that it costs more to run our co-op today than it did 12 years ago.
Understanding both the difficulty of, and urgency for such a move, CEO Randy Hee and CFO David Bissell gave the public a welcome informational presentation on this proposal, now available online at kiuc.coop. (An update on the proposal will be made at 6 p.m., Tuesday, at the War Memorial Convention Hall.)
Although the timing of a rate increase may be difficult for many of us, it is not hard to understand that the cost of operating the co-op has gone up. Further, as consumers, it is important to note that our interests are being represented. In order to have the increase approved, KIUC will need to demonstrate to the PUC and Consumer Advocate, with comprehensive data and analysis, that the proposed increase is in fact warranted, and there will be ample opportunity for public input along the way.
Going forward, we can choose to resist, decry or forestall this effort, or we can instead just choose to engage in it. By listening, engaging and offering our feedback, we can all help bring about a new era of cooperation between KIUC and our community which will ultimately yield a cleaner and more affordable energy future.
As we show our co-op that we can listen and understand its legitimate concerns, we can expect them to share more information with us, and ultimately to do a better job listening to our concerns as well. We might even hope for an end to the well intended but dated “one voice” policy that currently guides our co-op board and replace it with the harmony of an entire community working together.
We face many challenges in the coming years, but the opportunities to bring about real and meaningful change are great. A clean and affordable energy future is ours to create and the single most effective tool available to achieve this future is cooperation.
Ben Sullivan, Lawai
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