If the NextEra merger does not go through, a utility co-op system for Hawai‘i Island could be part of the solution to prepare us for coming changes.
The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) has been operating for 12 years and its results have been impressive. KIUC was 100 percent debt-financed through a co-op financing system, and millions of dollars have gone into equity since then and have been refunded to its ratepayers.
There are 900 utility co-ops nationwide, which have gotten together and formed co-op banks to help finance utility co-ops. These banks have excellent credit ratings. The Cooperative Financing Corporation (CFC) has assets of $26 billion, and Co Bank has $100 billion.
KIUC’s electricity costs were the highest of all the Hawai‘i counties when it started. But in 12 years, its costs have risen the least. This is despite its not having geothermal and not being able to use wind because of bird kills.
This coming weekend, KIUC is having a blessing of its new Anahola photovoltaic system. That system is significant because it is using daytime sun for nighttime use, and it’s one of the first such systems in the nation.
The co-op system, with its locally managed board of directors, is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. It’s nimble and practical.
A hybrid electricity system for our state might be just what we need to prepare for the future.
President, Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative