LIHUE — Allan Smith is running for re-election to the board of directors for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative because he wants to continue to help steer the co-op in the right direction.
“I was on the board for many years. I took a two-year hiatus and now I’m back,” he said. “I’d like to continue to contribute and keep the momentum and strategic direction going.”
Before resigning in 2014 to take a management position at Sygenta, Smith served on the board from 2007 to 2013. He was selected to be chairman of the board in 2013.
Last year, the Lihue man was selected to fill a vacancy on the board, and his term expires this year.
He is now running for re-election, which is a three-year term. Smith is one of seven candidates running to fill three seats for the board of directors.
“I think it’ll be easy to get back up to speed. The short- and long-term plan in actions are still in line and very steadfast,” he said.
One of KIUC’s goals is to have 50 percent of Kauai’s power be generated by renewable energy by 2023 and 100 percent by 2045. Earlier this month, the co-op said the island will reach 50 percent by next year, and has a goal of 70 percent by 2030.
“We need to get off oil and get away from fossil fuels. And we need to get to get to sustainable source so we can support ourselves,” he said.
The 71-year-old said he will also partner with the other directors, CEO, management and staff to reach KIUC’s goals.
“I’m a director who would focus on maintaining financial strength, communicating with members and investigating alternative sources of energy,” he said. “We need to work for a sustainable development of our Kauai through policies accepted by our members.”
The Kamehameha Schools and University of Hawaii graduate was a senior executive of Grove Farms, Inc. In 2007, he served as interim director for the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
“I have hands-on working experience with several hydro-plants and biomass plants here on the island. I was part of a leadership team with companies that maintained and ran the machines,” he said. “I feel that my competencies and experience will be of use to the co-op.”
Keeping rates low and getting off fossil fuels are two main issues facing the co-op, Smith said.
“It’s come to a time when we have to take a look at the rates and make sure they are fair for all members, regardless of energy use or size,” he said. “We have to make sure we are as equitable as possible.”
But getting rates on an equal playing field means going to a state agency to get the process started, he said.
“Of course, this all depends on the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, and rates are approved by them. So I think we should get input from the members and submit it to the commission,” he said. “It is a long, cumbersome process, but it needs to be done.”
If re-elected, Smith said he wants to push for more community outreach between the board members and the public.
“Perhaps to show them what we’re doing. A lot of people read about it, but they don’t get out and see it or talk to senior staff — it’ll be more of a hands-on approach,” he said. “There are a lot of exciting things happening people should be aware of and initiatives need to be taken by our board.”
For example, Smith proposes KIUC hosts regularly scheduled workshops and tours.
“It is their cooperative. It is our cooperative,” he said. “They should see who’s running it. Our employees do a great job and they should see it. And then people will be more comfortable about how their energy is generated and delivered.”