LIHUE — The top executive for the nation’s electric cooperative network paid his first visit to Kauai last week and toured several of Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s facilities.
“KIUC’s innovative accomplishments are a point of pride in the cooperative community,” said Jim Matheson, chief executive officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
“It’s impressive to see how KIUC became a leader in the adoption of renewables and energy-storage technology as it responds to evolving member expectations and geographic challenges.”
During his visit, members of the KIUC board of directors and staff led Matheson on a tour of the AES Lawai and Tesla solar-plus storage facilities, as well as the Kapaia Power Station, and provided a briefing on overall KIUC operations.
Matheson notes that, at 55% renewable generation, KIUC is a leader among NRECA membership in the transition to more renewable power generation. Since 2010, co-op renewable energy capacity nationwide has increased 145% from 4 gigawatts to 9.7 gigawatts.
On average, 1 gigawatt of electricity can power about 700,000 homes. More than 90% of electric co-ops operating in 48 states provide electricity generated by renewable-energy resources.
“Each cooperative faces unique challenges and opportunities as it works to empower local communities to succeed,” stated Matheson. “Cooperation among cooperatives, and the collaboration that takes place throughout the cooperative family, enables co-ops across the nation to learn from each other and succeed.”
“We appreciate the opportunity to host Mr. Matheson and better acquaint him with KIUC,” said David Bissell, KIUC president and CEO. “Our collaboration with other co-ops and the highly skilled and experienced staff of NRECA bring tremendous value to our member-owners.”
The NRECA is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.
From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives support more than 600,000 American jobs and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.
KIUC became a cooperative in 2002, and is one of only two NRECA member co-ops that provide electric generation, transmission and distribution services.