Sunday, May 22, 2022 |
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1. No, KIUC should not spend any additional money on fossil fuel generators. In order to transition more quickly KIUC should make the investment themselves – many of the alternative projects that are proposed or are coming on line in the near future are being proposed, built and operated by a third party. We, as member owners, need to insist that our money is being spent on clean, renewable and sustainable generation systems. KIUC also needs to step-up conservation measures immediately (through a different rate structure and incentives) to eliminate the need for additional generation and to give the currently proposed alternatives a chance to begin operating on the grid. KIUC does have some very good initiatives that are moving in the right direction like Advanced Metering but we need to move these projects quicker into reality – portions of this technology have been available for over a decade in other areas of the country and KIUC is just getting started.
2. Rates need to be restructured to promote conservation which would also assist low-income families and incentivize private investment. I believe that we should be paying for two different services on our bills: one for connection and distribution and the other for the amount of Kwh we use. The connection and distribution fee would remain constant throughout the year and would be based on the size service a residential or commercial customer has. The energy generation fee would be based on Kwh used and would fluctuate accordingly. The first rate charged in this category would be based on the least expensive generation capabilities cost evenly divided amongst all members. The next level of rates would be higher but based on the next cheapest generation alternative. In this manner the price of the next group of Kwh becomes progressively more expensive promoting conservation while still providing fair rates to all users. This also creates an open and transparent playing field for potential investors – they would know how efficient/inexpensive they need to be to provide energy on our island.
I would also like to see KIUC create a “Budget Billing” program where a member’s bill gets averaged over a 6 month period allowing all customers the ability to budget. Very often it is the large fluctuations that have occurred that are the most difficult for us to deal with financially. This budget amount would be reconfigured every 6 months and reconciled with a new payment amount. This type of program allows members to continue monitoring their use while still allowing a budget to be set.
We also need to step up our conservation efforts and assist lower-income folks in receiving some of this conservation equipment for free or at a reduced rate. KIUC does have some very good programs for trading in appliances or financing solar hot water which are great for those that own and can afford their own appliances, but what about the majority of low-income folks who rent? How many rental properties on the island are equipped with Energy Star appliances or Solar water heaters? Unfortunately those that can’t afford the upfront cost of this equipment or are renting are often stuck with some of the highest utility bills. These programs could be progressively restructured to assist those that have a higher need more and give those that can afford the upgrades on their own less assistance.
3. What a wonderful dilemma that will be to deal with especially since the current board seems to be ignoring this possibility in their long-range plans. Unfortunately the way KIUC is currently doing business and also how their rates are structured means that if there is a decrease in demand (conservation) we would see our per Kwh rate increase. A decrease in demand is partially what prompted KIUC to go after their currently proposed 10.5 percent rate increase. The rate structure, as I discussed earlier, needs to be revamped to be prepared for these scenarios as well as promoting future clean energy initiatives to take root and come to fruition.
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