Kauaʻi Island Utility Co-op asks state for rate increase
Kauaʻi’s electric utility cooperative is asking the state for a rate increase.
For the second time in its 20-year history, Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative filed a rate case to ask the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission for the increase. The increase is designed to provide the co-op with about a 9.42% increase in its electric revenues. For the average residential customer using 500 kilowatt hours per month, the proposed increase would amount to roughly $19 per month.
“There’s never a good time to increase rates,” said Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative President and CEO David Bissell in a press release. “However, since our last base rate increase in 2010, growth in electricity sales has lagged far behind inflation, so an adjustment is necessary.”
The rate increase is subject to approval by the PUC and any increase is not expected to impact co-op member bills until the second half of 2023 at the earliest.
While Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative has experienced a 5% increase in electricity sales during the past 12 years, the Consumer Price Index shows inflation has cumulatively increased by 37% during the same period.
“The gap in sales growth versus inflation is no longer sustainable,” Bissell said in the press release, noting that necessary investment in utility infrastructure, operational cost increases and significant costs associated with developing a Habitat Conservation Plan for endangered species will reduce annual margins to a level that would no longer be compliant with lender covenants.
Spread out throughout the 12-year period since the last increase, the proposed adjustment is the equivalent of less than 1% per year.
“We’ve worked hard to keep our cost increases at or below the level of inflation,” Bissell said in the press release. “Our cost control efforts included restructuring debt, reducing employee head count and reducing the amount of diesel used and replacing it with fixed-price renewable generation.”
More information about the rate case, which was filed Wednesday with the Public Utilities Commission, can be found on the utility cooperative’s website. Members who want to stay up to date on Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative news, including information about the rate case, are encouraged to sign up for email notifications.