LIHUE — The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect involved in vandalizing the utility’s hydroelectric power infrastructure.
The damage to the water-diversion site on the North Fork of the Wailua River was discovered on Oct. 18 by a KIUC contractor, according to a release from the Kauai Police Department.
It is believed the suspects used concrete cutting equipment to destroy part of a concrete channel and dam structure sometime between Oct. 11 and Oct. 18.
The damage caused concrete debris to fall into the stream. The debris, along with exposed rebar and metal cables which were left by the perpetrators, created a safety hazard at a recreation site that is frequently used by the public, the release said.
“The cost of repairs — which are estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars — will ultimately be borne by our cooperative’s member-owners: the ratepayers of Kauai,” said David Bissell, KIUC’s president and chief executive officer.
KIUC holds a state permit which allows the utility to divert water to generate power for its customers. The water then flows back in to the stream below the hydro generators. Downstream users include taro, flower, vegetable and fruit farmers, as well as cattle ranchers.
The system has provided water to two small hydroelectric plants for decades, and generates a combined capacity of 1.5 megawatts, according to the release.
“That’s enough to power 1,300 homes,” Bissell said. “This hydro system is an important component of our renewable-energy portfolio and is one of our most cost-effective generation systems.”
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to call Police Dispatch at 241-1711, or Detective Damien McCallum, 241-1693. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call CrimeStoppers at 246-8300.