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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, July 19, 2001

Feasibility study stalls Kaua'i utility decision

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

LIHU'E, Kaua'i — Mayor Maryanne Kusaka will wait until a feasibility study is complete before recommending whether the county should attempt to buy Kaua'i Electric Co.

That could take a month or longer, administration officials said. The mayor last year appointed a committee to review various options for the utility, whose owner, Citizens Communications, has indicated it is for sale.

The committee concluded that an investor-owned corporation, like the one that now owns it, was not a good choice. But it was unable to choose between other options.

The administration is leaning in favor of some sort of public ownership by the county or a community cooperative, said mayoral administrative assistant Wallace Rezentes.

The county hired the firm R.W. Beck to conduct two studies on the issue.

One, to be concluded in about a month, will look into the financial feasibility of county ownership, co-op ownership and investor ownership. Another, to take three to four months, will establish a value for the electric company.

In a statement yesterday afternoon, Kusaka said she will make her recommendation to the County Council on which course to take after the first study is done, but before the appraisal is complete.

The Kaua'i Island Utility Co-op, which is negotiating to purchase the utility, is paying for its own appraisal. The co-op's first bid to buy the company was rejected by the state Public Utilities Commission, in part because it was too expensive and could not guarantee rates would not increase.