Reorganized co-op looks to buy Kaua'i utility
By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau
LIHU'E, Kaua'i The cooperative that is trying to acquire Kaua'i Electric has reconfigured itself for a new run at the company.
Advertiser library photo
Mayor Mayor Maryanne said an appraisal should be available in summer.
Advertiser library photo
While the old board was to have remained in office for two years following the acquisition of the utility, the new panel is described as an interim organizing board that would step down 120 days after purchase and be replaced by an elected board.
"The role of the interim organizing board is to negotiate the purchase of Kaua'i Electric at a price and on terms that will serve the best interests of the electric ratepayers on Kaua'i," the co-op said in a news release.
The new board includes Gardiner, surveyor Dennis Esaki, hotelier Jerry Gibson, educator Peggy Cha, retired electric company supervisor John Bandman, businessman Brian Barbata, electrical engineer Walt Barnes, retired businessman Fran Brennan, engineer Clyde Kodani, developer Mike Loo, Republican attorney Clinton Shiraishi, tour boat operator Freckles Smith, former County Council Chairwoman Mary Thronas, Democratic political organizer Turk Tokita, restaurateur Roberta Wallace and former Mayor JoAnn Yukimura.
Barnes said the group has agreed with Kaua'i Electric owner Citizens Communications to enter new negotiations with the firm, but will not do so until it has an appraisal of the value.
The County of Kaua'i is also seeking an appraisal of the utility for a possible attempt to purchase, but Barnes said the co-op won't wait for it.
"We believe we'll be able to decide to get the work, pay to get the work and get the work in less time than it took the county to decide to get the work. That's one of the reasons a cooperative works better than government," he said.
Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, who was generally complimentary of the new board makeup, said the county appraisal should be available in mid to late summer.
Barnes said he anticipates within several weeks obtaining an appraisal based on discounted cash flow valuation, as well as an assessment of comparable utility sales.
The co-op's financing of an appraisal and other startup costs are being covered by the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp.
The state Public Utilities Commission rejected the co-op's first attempt to buy the company, in part because the $270 million price was dramatically higher than the PUC's assessment of the company's value, and because of questions about the co-op's management abilities.
Several of the new board members, including Brennan and Barnes, were outspoken opponents of that deal.
In the re-organization, Kaua'i Island Utility Co-op changed its bylaws to increase ratepayer control over the board. Ratepayers, who would be the voting members of the co-op, will vote on the ultimate bylaws and may nominate board members.
Other changes were made to more closely follow the model bylaws of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Details will be available on the Web site www.kauai-coop.org.