KIUC votes for openness

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative at its Tuesday board meeting took action to strengthen both the voice of its board members and those of the community.

The board voted to change the rules regarding public testimony at meetings. The policy is now less restrictive, and in addition to the opening meeting item to invite public comments, the board will now allow three-minute public testimonies prior to a new business agenda item.

Discussion prompted concerns over meeting length over whether oral testimony could be waived when written testimony could be provided to the board instead. However, the board agreed to include a second opportunity later in the meeting for open testimony, including non-agenda items related to KIUC issues.

The bill is designed to give people an opportunity to speak later in the meetings but does not allow someone to speak twice on the same issue.

The board also voted for a less-restrictive communications policy and to liberalize the directors’ ability to speak on KIUC-related issues. The discussion centered on board members understanding duties and responsibilities while being able to speak openly but with a unified voice on official policies as demonstrated during the recent hydropower debates.

In other business

The board voted to approve the reinstatement of the position of chief of operations and the appointment of Michael Yamane, the current engineering manager, to the new role.

Chair Phil Tacbian said the position existed previously but went unfunded and was deleted. He said nothing changes in the leadership of the cooperative but that department heads report to people more appropriate to their new areas of responsibility.

Board member Carol Bain requested a flow chart of the leadership restructuring to better understand the emphasis on how to integrate the expanded roles into the renewable energy areas of photovoltaic and battery storage along with internal generation.

In the President’s Report, David Bissell pointed out that although average residential kilowatt rates are down, the cost of diesel is up. He noted the outage rate was .08 hours last month, as compared to 1.02 this time last year. The outages so far this year are 1.65 hours. He noted that sales are 2 percent higher year-to-date and that peak demand is in August.

Bissel pointed out there was no opposition to the recent approval of the Green Energy Agreement and attributed this to the time and effort in completing a strong application.

In the Financial Report, Karissa Jonas, CFO and vice president of Finance, said there was no borrowing on the line of credit so far this month. She was concerned that the volatile fuel prices are not following the previous futures market predictions, and noted the load has dropped but fuel prices are driving the numbers.

The board discussed the idea of an optional annual $6 charitable foundation “opt-in-opt-out” surcharge as part of Operation Roundup, for member-directed funds for Foundation activities. A concern with regulatory issues over rate structure changes prompted the discussion to follow a presentation on the matter at a later date.

In other board actions:

• Jack Leavett was named to manager of Transmission and Distribution

• Brad Rockwell was named manager of Production

• Karissa Jonas was named to CFO and Financial Vice president

• A $4,400 CFC Education Grand Fund award was announced

• A motion was approved to have annual board self-assessment in January

• A Battery Energy Storage System was approved to add a third

• The 2012-14 Auditors Contract was approved

• CEO rights were extended to sign single, non-budgeted expenditures on returning invoices from $50,000 to $100,000 rather than the proposed $250,000 limit

• A CFC 3-year Term Loan & Line of Credit Restructure bridge loan was approved

• 2012 IADG Contract Renewal proposal was withdrawn from the agenda

• George Costa  was named member of the Loan Review Committee

• Board Policy No. 14, Procedure, and Practice Formulation was updated

• A motion was approved to post contact information on the KIUC website as provided by each director

• A request was approved for a report on hiring a safety officer.

Beginning in January the monthly board meeting start time changes to 3 p.m.

The next KIUC regular board meeting will be at 1:30 p.m., Sept. 27, at the KIUC Main Conference Room, 4463 Pahe‘e St., Lihu‘e.

Visit the co-op’s website at www.kiuc.coop for more information.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or by emailing tlaventure@ thegardenisland.com.

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