KIUC talks renewables with members

LIHUE — By the end of 2015, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative will be close to meeting its goal of using renewable resources to generate 50 percent of the island’s electricity, the president and chief executive officer of the cooperative said Thursday.

Speaking at the 12th annual meeting of cooperative members at Kauai Community College, David Bissell said the cooperative will soon begin receiving power from its 12-megawatt solar array near the old Koloa Mill. And in 2015, KIUC’s 12-megawatt solar array in Anahola will come online.

The two arrays alone will provide nearly half the electricity consumed on Kauai during the daylight hours. And KIUC is developing plans for a 25-megawatt pumped storage hydropower project on the Westside that could store some of the energy created during the day and use it at night, when demand hits its peak.

Allan Smith, chairman of the KIUC board of directors, said the cooperative’s strategic plan makes a priority of lowering the average bill by at least 10 percent over the next 10 years.

“Our cooperative had one of its most productive years in 2013 and we’re well on our way to achieving the goal of using renewable resources to meet at least half of Kauai’s energy needs by 2023,” he said. “We believe we will hit the target well ahead of schedule, so we’re already working on ideas for the other 50 percent.”

Other highlights of Thursday’s meeting included:

KIUC expects to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels by 2020 if all of its renewable energy projects come online.

In 12 years as a cooperative, KIUC has returned $31 million to its members in the form of patronage capital and billing credits. This year, $1.4 million was returned, the largest amount since before the recession began.

KIUC’s rates have risen more slowly than those on the other islands with a decrease of 1.6 percent since 2008. By comparison, rates on Oahu have risen 21.5 percent over the same period.

The number of photovoltaic systems on Kauai has risen from 410 in 2010 to 1,920 installed by the end of 2013. A record 790 systems were installed in 2013.

A month after its rollout, nearly 700 customers are already using the cooperative’s new MyMeter website, which uses the smart meter to enable customers to go online to track their energy use and note consumption trends.

Members who attended the meeting received three LED light bulbs worth $30, a bag of rice and a dinner of chili and rice.

KIUC serves 33,000 customers on Kauai.

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